Car theft and police chase prompts school lockdown

OFallon PDO’FALLON – A dangerous situation unfolded Thursday morning as O’Fallon police dealt with a car theft and two different car chases with possibly armed suspects.

According to Captain Jim Cavins the police department received word at 9:16 a.m. that the Swansea Police were looking for three black males in a silver Audi attempting to break into vehicles. The Fairview Heights Police obtained the license plate number of the Audi which revealed it was reported stolen in an “armed vehicular hijacking” in St. Louis.

At 10:15 a.m. the O’Fallon PD received a call about an SUV pulling a trailer leaving Schnucks on East Highway 50, saying that the doors to the trailer were open. Almost simultaneously, O’Fallon Police received another phone call from an individual reporting his SUV and pull behind box trailer stolen from the Schnuck’s lot. While police tracked down the stolen SUV, the caller provided information that she believed a second vehicle was involved, describing it as a silver Audi with Missouri registration.

O’Fallon Officers caught up with the stolen SUV with trailer traveling southbound on Scott-Troy Road approaching Highway 50. The SUV fled eastbound on Highway 50 towards Lebanon, where O’Fallon officers terminated their chase. Lebanon Police would locate the SUV traveling southbound on Rte 4 and resumed the chase. As the SUV entered westbound I-64, the trailer came off the hitch and crashed on the shoulder of the westbound entrance ramp.

The SUV re-entered O’Fallon via the Greenmount Road interchange and then went westbound on Regency Park Drive. At this point, the SUV crashed into the Jack Schmitt Chevrolet security gate and two black males fled on foot from the crash. Shortly thereafter they were taken into custody.

While this incident was unfolding, an O’Fallon Police Officer located the Audi traveling westbound in the 200 block of East Highway 50. As he attempted to stop the Audi, it fled northbound on Lincoln Avenue. For public safety reasons, the O’Fallon Officer did not pursue the Audi. East St. Louis Police later located the Audi and took four black males into custody.

The two suspects taken into custody by O’Fallon were both from East St. Louis and were ages 11 and 15.  On Friday, the 15 year old suspect was charged in St. Clair County Juvenile court with the following offenses:

• One count “Aggravated Unlawful Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle.” (Class 1 felony)

• One count “Unlawful Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle.” (Class 2 felony)

• Two counts “Aggravated Fleeing and Attempting to Elude Police.” (Class 4 felony)

He remains detained at the St. Clair County Juvenile Detention Center.  The case against the 11 year old remained pending at our press time.

Because this incident involved an unknown number of possibly armed suspects, local O’Fallon schools were placed on lockdown until the situation was deemed secured.

District 90 Superintendent Carrie Hruby said there are two levels of lockdown.

“A soft lock down is initiated if there is a potential threat outside the building. Doors are locked and visitors are not allowed into the building. Students are kept inside but are free to move about their day as usual.  During a hard lock down students would be kept inside a classroom or secured area until the all clear is given. Doors to the building are also locked and no one is allowed into or out of the school,” Hruby explained.

On Thursday, the schools were placed on soft lock down.

Hruby said in either lock down case the district communicates with parents through their pre-arranged notification system, allowing the district to send thousands of phone calls and emails within minutes.

Hruby said she appreciated the forethought of the O’Fallon PD to keep the area children safe.

“We appreciate that the O’Fallon Police Department showed extra precaution and immediately informed us of the need to lock down our schools.  I would also like to thank our administrators and staff for their swift response in securing students safely in the buildings,” Hruby said.

City nearly ready to begin presidential streets drainage project

City Hall

City Hall

O’FALLON – Mayor Gary Graham announced at the end of a short City Council meeting Monday night that the city believes it verbally has a deal in place that would allow the first phase of the presidential streets project to begin.

The project to alleviate drainage issues throughout the presidential streets area has been ongoing for some time, with the city needing to get approval from residents to allow for easements. Recently a few residents were still negotiating with the city, keeping the start date of the project in limbo. Once the city obtains written permission, it can begin firming up plans.

“We don’t have final paperwork, but we think we have a deal for the first section of the presidential streets. Verbally, we have an agreement, but we don’t have anything signed. So hopefully that will go forward in the spring. We received verbal commitment last week and are having papers drawn up, so hopefully that will be done soon,” Graham informed the council.

In other business…

During the Clerk’s Report, the council approved the following raffle requests:

• A request from O.U.S.A.R.T. to conduct a raffle from February 1 through January 31, 2017 for cash.

• Requests from the O’Fallon Moose Lodge to conduct a raffle on March 13 for various packets of meat and on March 1 for two rifles, ammunition, and cash.

• A request from Hospice of Southern Illinois Inc to conduct a raffle on February 6 for a Split the Pot cash prize at the KC Hall on Old Collinsville Road.

• The council also approved roadblock requests from American Legion Post 137 and Knights of Columbus Council #4239 for upcoming dates. Alderman Ned Drolet was the sole opposing vote to the roadblock requests. He has expressed concern in the past about safety.

On the order of resolutions, the council approved the following:

• A resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute an agreement with Game On Sports for the purpose of a consulting agreement for services conducting study for the comprehensive plan for the Sports Park Village in an amount not to exceed $17,500.

• A resolution authorizing the Mayor to sign an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Local Agency Agreement for Federal Participation for the construction of the Milburn School Road Sidewalk & Pedestrian Bridge Project in an amount of $391,290. The Milburn School Road Sidewalk and Pedestrian Bridge Project is currently planned for construction this summer. The connector will provide bicycle/pedestrian access from Pausch Road to Red Hawk Ridge.

• A resolution authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk to execute an IDOT Construction Engineering Services agreement for Federal Participation with Rhutasel and Associates for the Milburn School Road Sidewalk & Pedestrian Bridge Project at a cost of $34,500.

• A resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute an agreement with Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc. for the Union Hill Watermain Extension in an amount of $366,035. The project is to extend and improve water service to the Union Hill area in unincorporated Fairview Heights. Currently, a number of customers have exceedingly long service laterals, up to a quarter mile. Service for other customers are through their neighbor’s backyards, instead along the street where they live. By looping some service mains, area fire protection will be enhanced. Additionally, ground along three quarters of a mile of Union Hill Road is not currently serviced by O’Fallon or Illinois American Water Company.  O’Fallon provides water to a significant portion of Fairview Heights.

• A resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute agreements with Horner & Shifrin for the design of the Green Mount Road Watermain Relocation in an amount $16,000. The existing watermain on the west side of Green Mount Road between Highway 50 and Cambridge Boulevard is in need of relocation to avoid conflicts with the Green Mount RoadWideningProject. Engineering services are required to create construction drawings, specifications, permits, and construction staking for the relocation.

The only resident to speak during the public comment portion was O’Fallon High School student Justin Walters. Walters told the assembled elected officials about the fundraiser the band is participating in with the O’Fallon Weekly and asked if they’d be interested in subscribing to help him raise funds for his trip to the 2016 Orange Bowl.