Sterling schools put on lockdown Tuesday due to traffic stop, unrelated report of possible threat

Armed man, 15-year-old driver charged in traffic stop near high school; second 15-year-old charged in threat investigation

Sterling High School circle drive and commons

STERLINGSterling Public Schools were placed on a limited-access lockdown Tuesday morning when two unrelated incidents led the city’s police department to ask school officials to enact their crisis plan.

According to a news release issued by Sterling police Chief Alex Chavira, Sterling Public Schools contacted the Sterling Police Department’s school resource officer Tuesday morning about potential threat information that the district had received. SPS learned of the potential threat information from a concerned parent. The parent reportedly learned of the potential threat from their child, an SPS student, according to the release.

“As a result of this information, and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of SPS students and staff, Sterling officers and detectives responded to the area of Sterling High School,” Chavira said.

Simultaneously, the Sterling Police Department school resource officer initiated an investigation into the threat information.

At the same time, a Sterling officer conducted an unrelated investigative stop in the vicinity of Sterling High School for a traffic violation. A 15-year-old female was identified as the driver of the vehicle, and Jesse L. Hall, 40, of Sterling, was identified as a passenger, Chavira said. Upon further investigation, Hall was found to be in possession of a loaded firearm, Chavira said.

Because of potential safety concerns arising from the traffic stop and the close proximity of the traffic stop to Sterling High School, police asked SPS administration to enact the crisis plan.

SPS went into a limited-access lockdown districtwide until it was determined that the two incidents were not related, Chavira said.

Hall was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, unlawful use of weapons and possession of a firearm without a requisite firearm owner’s identification card. Hall was taken to the Whiteside County Jail, Chavira said.

The 15-year-old female driver was charged with not having a valid driver’s license and was released into the custody of her parent, according to the release.

Sterling police charged a second 15-year-old female with disorderly conduct based on the initial threat investigation conducted by the school resource officer, Chavira said. The teen was released into the custody of her parent.

“The Sterling Police Department would like to thank SPS administration for their collaboration in this matter, and we would like to remind the community that prompt and detailed reporting of suspicious activities can help prevent violent crimes,” Chavira said.

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Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.