Lawmen from local and state agencies were searching for a black male believed to be in his early 20s and sporting shoulder-length “dredlocks” this afternoon as schools and public buildings across the southern half of Hope were locked down with the report of a man with a gun on the Hope High School campus.
The search was officially suspended moments ago, as law enforcement officers were called back to the high school campus to coordinate information for the investigation, according to Hope Police Chief J. R. Wilson.
No shots were fired, and police have yet to positively say that a firearm was involved, except to say that a witness saw what she believed to be a firearm in the waistband of the suspect's pants.
Wilson officially cleared the HHS campus about 11:30 a.m., but concerned parents swarmed the campus to check students out of school. Parents also descended upon the campus of Yerger Middle School and were checking students out of school at the time of this report.
Law enforcement officers swept every public building and large complex from HHS southward, including Beryl Henry Elementary School, Wadley Regional Medical Center at Hope, the Southwest Mental Health Clinic, First United Methodist Church Preschool, and Heather Manor Nursing Home.
The University of Arkansas Community College at Hope campus was locked down and evacuated as UACCH police, HPD, Hempstead County Sheriff's Department, Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Highway Police officers swept through the campus.
Officers converged on the Caney Creek Apartments on South Highway 29 and went door to door asking residents if they had seen a man fitting the description which had been given to police in the original telephone call to HPD dispatch. A subsequent witness later told police the suspect had left the campus and was believed to be going to the UACCH campus or the Caney Creek Apartments, according to Wilson.
No suspect had been arrested at the time of this report, although police had investigated two individuals, one seen walking along the railroad tracks between Elm Street and Hwy. 29 behind the Beryl Henry campus and one in the vicinity of East 14th and Main streets near the Arkansas Revenue Office.