UPDATED: Bethel Schools Under Lockdown: Man Sought, found

Suicidal man found at approx. 1:30 p.m.



Updated Report: 

2:45 pm Police Report:  

At 11:52, the Bethel Police Department received a phone call from an emotionally distraught man currently living in the Reynolds Ridge Apartments with his grandmother. He had become upset and stabbed himself in the wrist with a steak knife.  He left the scene and was last seen by his wife headed towards Berry School. Due to the close proximity to the school complex, schools were locked down to ensure students safety.


After an extensive search, the wounded man was found on the trails of the East Swamp are of Bethel off of Ballfield Road at about 1:40.  He was escorted to a waiting ambulance and brought to Danbury ER for evaluation. 

1:45 p.m.  According to Bethel Chief of Police Jeffery Finch, a 29 year old man was found in the swampy woods about a half mile behind the police station near the ballfield.

The man had stabbed himself three times in the arm, but once the police found him, he was able to walk out of the woods unassisted. The man was picked up by ambulance and brought to Danbury Hospital. It is not known if he was ever a Bethel student of if he has any documented history of mental illness.  The Chief of Police said he did not have the man's name at this time.

 It is believed the man was initially hoping not to be found, but he contacted his wife by cell phone, and the police were able to trace the call.

 The call was originally reported at 11:52 p.m., and he was picked up at approximately 1:30 p.m.


1:00 p.m.:  Just before 12:30 this afternoon, the Bethel Schools announced they were under lockdown. This is not a drill. According to a police officer on the scene, a suicidal man was on the school property and had not yet been located. The police do not believe that the adult male they are looking for is armed. “We have recovered the weapon he used to hurt himself,” the officer said. The weapon was not identified. The officer said, “This is a very active scene right now, and we can't say anymore.”

 Several undercover and uniformed police officers were covering the grounds at the Berry Elementary School, and an ambulance was parked behind the building. A plain clothes officer was overheard telling bus drivers to leave the property, circle streets and return later for students.

 According to Kristen Brooks, principal of the Berry school, the children were all inside and safe. The building is locked and only police officers have been able to get into the building.

 Nervous parents stood outside of their cars, listening to the recorded message sent out by the school. One parent told Patch that she had heard an officer say that information about the suicidal man had come from the man's family. The question on parents' lips, “Why did the person come to kill himself on school property?”

William Flamme April 05, 2012 at 05:37 PM
The automated call from the school district to my cell and home phone was an example of great communication by the district; my wife and I really appreciate them making sure we were informed right away.
David Drazul April 05, 2012 at 05:47 PM
All that call did was alarm me. It provided no details as to why the schools were in lockdown. I didn't know if we were dealing with a school shooting or another phony bomb threat. I turned on the TV hoping to find some info on the local channel tickers but there wasn't anything. So all I could do was sit and wait. I finally checked my email and there was a msg from the Bethel Patch. They're the only one to actually provide any details! Now I feel better. If anyone from the schools or town reads this, PLEASE follow the Bethel Patch's example and give us some details. Being vague only gives parents imaginations a chance to fear the worst!
Dan Gaita April 05, 2012 at 05:53 PM
This was a model example of proactive law enforcement and public safety. The schools did the right thing and our police were excellent at taking timely and apropriate action to ensure the safety of our kids. Thank you, job well done !
Lisa Perry April 05, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I would guess that they didn't have all the information when the call was made. I looked at the Patch, immediately, and there wasn't anything listed here yet either. I'm grateful that they let us know something was happening so we could seek additional information. Great job keeping our kids safe, Bethel Schools!
Robin April 05, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I am so glad they did the lockdown and advised about it but also wish I could have gotten verified details on why. I heard from my daughter who read about it on twitter, then 1/2 or so later got the call from the schools but still couldn't know for sure what was going on. I wish I looked to the patch right away. I then learned from my daughter it was lifted. So basically twitter gave word from kids in the school 1st. Patch told why. TV, there was no news...Thanks Patch!
Dan Gaita April 05, 2012 at 06:01 PM
The man injured himself with a knife, left his home which was in the vacinity of the educational complex. The police and schools acted proactivly to eliminate any potential threat given the suspects actions. They acted perfectly, timely and apropriatley. They did a great job.
Christine Rose (Editor) April 05, 2012 at 06:26 PM
The story has been updated with full details as they are available at this moment. Thanks everyone for reading Patch!
Stacie Smoogen Leonard April 05, 2012 at 06:44 PM
The system of phone calls that went to parents was vague and did nothing but panic parents. Then the call they were safe came 30 minutes later...come on Bethel Patch did a great job keeping us informed there is no reason why they could not have given better details about the children and their safety when the first call went out. The phone system was a panic tool..causing more grief than was needed. We entrust our children to them the least they can do is give us more information when calling about such a security issue!
Christine Rose (Editor) April 05, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Just a note to readers. I could not do what I do, without you. Getting a heads up from parents gets me on the scene and info out to all of you. Thanks to the parents who called!!
Diane Ryan April 05, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I got a call from my daughter with a teacher's cell phone right before the school called with the automatic message system to ours and every emergency number. The calls said the kids were safe on lock down and that the threat was external and not to come to the school. The police and school acted swiftly as my daughter was at the high school tennis courts for gym and they immediately made the announcement and ushered them inside. Great job Bethel schools and police!
Liz Kerekes April 05, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I have 2 little children at Berry School and DID NOT receive any calls from the Bethel schools. I had to find out through another person and reading it on the Patch which of course put me in a tremendous panic. Bethel Schools are NOT consistent in their communications to parents.
Bob B April 05, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I'm proud of how the schools handled this situation - they did a great job. If you consider receiving a call from the school - in real time - advising that there is an issue and being told that your child is safe to be annoying - you may want to consider having your name removed from the school's emergency call list. .
Lisa April 05, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I applaud the Bethel Public School system and police department!! I received the phone calls on my cell phone and at work. Granted, it took me a while to find any information, but I kept coming back to the Bethel Patch and finally read about it shortly before they caught the guy. Thank you to The Bethel Patch for your coverage. My daughter called me when she got home and told me all about it. She was panicked the whole time, but was reassured by her friend and teacher. Thank God the Superintendent and principal of the middle school sent out that email about lockdowns two days ago!! I love this school district!!! Thank you for keeping our kids safe!!
Stacie Smoogen Leonard April 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Just because they have told you in an automated message that your children are safe and the threat is outside the buidling..this makes you comfortable. Could of been a kid with a gun or an adult with a gun, the threat being outside the building did nothing to make me feel my child was safe. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. And my opinion is that call made for worried parents more than ease of mind.
Missy Grandinetti April 05, 2012 at 08:53 PM
We can all go back and forth all Day long...let's all just be THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL our children are all o.k and no one was hurt..
Missy Grandinetti April 05, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Christine!you rock!
Missy Grandinetti April 05, 2012 at 08:58 PM
The message said the kids were not in danger..yes ..you freak..but really..they would not lie about that..regardless of this and that..ALL the kids were safe
Missy Grandinetti April 05, 2012 at 09:01 PM
The schools are essentially locked down every day...you can't get in without someone buzzing you in..the only difference was they were locked in their classes..I think it was handled excellent by both the bethel pd and the school system
Lou Bambach April 05, 2012 at 09:06 PM
IMO Bethel Public Schools and the Bethel Police Department did a great job. The school provided an accurate and informative message in real time letting parents know their children are safe and the threat was isolated outside the building. I believe waiting to get further details before sending out the call would have defeated the point of providing real time information to ensure that parents knew their children were safe. I have a strong belief that those who are saying the information was vague or causing a panic would have also been complaining if the message did not come out in a timely manner.
Doug April 05, 2012 at 09:35 PM
It is what it is, whether we got told about it or not, there is essentially nothing you can do about it. You can't go there and get in the middle of it. Suppose they did say a man with a gun outside? Are you going to run down and help? There is a need to tell people, there is a need at times to not tell the whole story to prevent people from taking specific actions that could compromise what the police and others are doing. Would it have changed what any of us would have done if they said a suicidal man in the playground? No, we would have had information but it wouldn't have changed anything. They did the best they could with the cards they had in front of them.
Janis April 05, 2012 at 10:23 PM
I happened to be at the school for a meeting when the lock down occurred... Dr. Brooks and the staff did an EXCELLENT job responding with professionalism and urgency. Priority one was PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN... and for that I am truly so grateful. It was more comforting to be on the inside seeing the action taking place than a worried parent receiving an alarming call, I understand. However at the time I don't know how much information was provided and there was an ongoing situation. It's hard to report on what you don't know. The main priority was our childrens safety. An amazing job was done by the administrators and staff. The response was immediate and done only to protect the welfare of our children. It's upsetting and needless to say people will find a reason to criticize but we all have our babies home tonight and the school did what it was supposed to do. It actually caused more confusion to have parents show up to an unsecured situation to try and get their children. A lock down is just that and the children and parents were safer waiting for instruction than adding to the confusion. It's heart breaking these measures are in place but they were executed today for the good of our families. Whether logistically there is some room for improvement is up for review... but overall be so thankful to Bethel, the Principals and staff for taking such great care of our children today!
Cricket April 05, 2012 at 10:32 PM
That's simply not true. My kids are in Berry too and every year they send forms to be filled out that ask what numbers you want called in the event of an emergency. If you aren't getting the calls, then you didn't give out your number and you should probably contact the school to be sure you are added to the list. I have had kids in this school for years and they have always been consistent with their communiciation. That is why just about everyone in town knew the school was in a lockdown.
Christine Rose (Editor) April 06, 2012 at 12:40 AM
LOL Paula. No, no twin, but if you know where I can get one, it sure would come in handy! Thanks! :-)
RC April 06, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Amen, Janis. I couldnt have said that better myself. My son is a kindergartener at Berry, and I am there quite often enough to know they were in very capable hands. Dr Brooks and the staff at Berry are AMAZING, professional, and there is NOTHING more important to them than the safety of our children. I cannot believe some people are complaining about the calls - if you dont want them, opt out of getting them. If you think it was not sufficient information, understand that information given is what CAN be given at the time to ensure safety. The police would not compromise a potential dangerous situation by giving out information that is critical to keep private at the time. The only ones making it harder and more dangerous are the parents who do not follow the suggestions and decide to drive to the school themselves. You could potentially be putting our children in greater danger by adding to the confusion. Did you get your child sooner? (No.) Did you get in to the area? (No). I can understand the worry and panic - but regardless, just the fact that we have to have these procedures cause worry and panic. Kudos to the entire staff at Berry school and to the Bethel PD for acting so swiftly and diligently in keeping our children safe. Im sure whatever reviews of yesterday's lockdown will only be to improve the situation - should it ever need to be put in place again. (Hopefully not!!).
RC April 06, 2012 at 12:14 PM
In addition, my son got off the bus yesterday (and after I hugged him so tight I thought he would pop) he told me EXACTLY what he did to stay safe (quite an accomplishment for a kindergartener). He was not worried - he told me "somebody outside was not safe, and they needed to make him safe". They stayed quiet behind the teacher's desk reading and drawing pictures - and not ONCE did he get nervous or panic. Kudos again to Berry school for an amazing job.
Richard April 06, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Parents Were not just showing up because of the lockdown. The lockdown happend around 12:10 and a lot of things were going on. The high school juniors were supposed to get out at 12:15 for the Junior prom. There was some kind of assembly at Rockwell school so parents were starting to show up for that. It was also the switching time for circle of friends so parents were already waiting to pick up their kids. Parents were not just showing up because of the lockdown, most parents did not know what was going on until they got over to the schools.


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