GOFFSTOWN - An armed man who barricaded himself inside his home about 150 yards from Maple Avenue Elementary caused a lockdown at the school Wednesday, police said.
"We didn't like to have to do it, but we wanted to make sure the kids were safe," Capt. Robert Browne said.
Lucien Masson, 46, had access to weapons and was suicidal, police said. Because of his 27 Elm St. home abuts the school parking lot, the decision was made around noon to go into lockdown "in case it was a situation that got sour," Browne said.
Masson eventually surrendered and came out of the residence on his own. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and is being held on $5,000 cash bail.
In a letter sent to parents, Principal Suzanne Pyszka said the school went into a "shelter in place" at the request of the Goffstown Police Department.
Students were allowed to move within the building, but remained in their homerooms. Maple Avenue is one of two elementary schools in Goffstown; it has 460 first- through fourth-graders.
Pyszka said she kept in touch with classrooms over the school PA system throughout the incident. Once the emergency was lifted, regular school operations resumed.
"The children and staff were active responders during this emergency process and I am very proud of them," Pyszka said.
Fourth-graders, who normally attend class in portable classrooms outside of the building, were brought inside until the lockdown was over.
Dian McCarthy, whose son is a fourth-grader, said she is glad that the school holds drills to prepare children for such situations.
"I do think the school handled it as best as they absolutely could," she said.
McCarthy said lockdowns for elementary-age students are an unfortunate sign of the times.
"I know it's a reality of the age we live in, and yet it saddens me to no end that our children have to practice hiding," she said.
Though the incident was likely scary for some children, McCarthy said she approved of the measures taken.
"I'd rather err on the side of caution and keep our kids safe," she said.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said she learned about the incident on Facebook and was troubled that she didn't receive an email or a phone call from the school during or after the incident.
Parent Michelle Rouillard said she would have preferred an email or a phone call as opposed to the letter that came home in her child's backpack after school. But she said she realized that the staff was busy shepherding children to safety.
"It's also fairly realistic to think there would have been a mass of people showing up at the school if a phone call went out, and that wouldn't have been safe for anybody," Rouillard said. "But an email notifying us of what happened would have been nice."
Browne said that a call came in to the police department around 11:33 a.m. from a family member of Masson. He had barricaded himself in his house.
He said alcohol appeared to have played a "significant part" in the incident. Browne said all firearms have been removed from the house.
- - - - - - - -Kathy Remillard may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.