TOWN OF ROCK
Authorities continued to look for a man wanted in a possible drug investigation who fled from police and ran into a trailer park near Blackhawk Technical College on Friday afternoon, police said.
Police lifted a lockdown at the technical college and two other schools Friday, but law enforcement continued searching for a suspect in the area.
Blackhawk Tech was in lockdown while a police dog followed the scent of the suspect toward campus, but the dog lost the scent, Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson said at 3:40 p.m.
During a 4 p.m. press conference, Knudson said a police dog was following a different track.
School buses stayed away from the area while the search continued.
Drones and at least three police dogs were used in the search, and deputies were checking empty trailer homes, Knudson said.
Chief Deputy Craig Strouse told The Gazette the Rock County Sheriff’s Office was helping the state Division of Criminal Investigation with a drug investigation that resulted in a vehicle chase.
A sheriff’s office news release indicates deputies were assisting DCI agents when a person wanted on drug charges fled in a vehicle south from the area of County J and County O on Janesville’s southeast side.
The man jumped from his vehicle at Rockvale Mobile Home Park, 6219 S. Highway 51, and fled on foot, Strouse said.
Several deputies and police dogs tracked the man north through the trailer court inside a perimeter bounded on the west by Highway 51, on the north by Sunny Lane Road, on the east by County G and on the south by Townline Road, Strouse said.
Knudson described the man as black; 6 feet, 1 inch tall; 275 pounds; 34 years old, braided shoulder-length hair; and wearing a black coat.
Knudson said “three or four” police dogs attempted to track the man through the trailer park, but the search had come up empty as of early Friday evening.
He said police planned to maintain a “reduced presence” near the trailer park Friday night.
BTC spokeswoman Jennifer Thompson confirmed Blackhawk Tech went on lockdown Friday “due to police activity in the area.”
Strouse said area school districts and bus companies were contacted to make sure schoolchildren were not dropped off after school in the area of the search, and the districts supervised those children.
Knudson said as of 5 p.m. most of the children who had been diverted from drop-off had been reunited with their parents.
The incident started at about 1:30 p.m. Friday, Strouse said.
It was not clear if the man being sought was armed.
Strouse said the man has a history of being armed, but “I did not get the impression that right now somebody has seen him armed. He has been in the past. He’s been involved in some violent stuff in the past.”
Strouse advised people inside the search area to stay stationary in their homes until authorities lift the search perimeter.
Rock County Christian School also was locked down, the sheriff’s office said.
The Janesville School District said authorities notified the district of “an armed and dangerous suspect on foot in the Rockvale Trailer Park located at 6219 S. Highway 51.”
The mobile home park was closed and locked down, as well as BTC and Rock University High School, which is housed inside BTC, the school district statement said.
Knudson declined to say on what charges the man is wanted.
The sheriff’s office had been providing “support” to the DCI, he said.
“We just kind of got involved with this as the pursuit occurred and where we wanted to try and capture him after he had fled down here. There was some coordination with DCI initially, but obviously our involvement became much more significant after the chase,” Knudson said.
When asked if the man was the subject of a DCI drug investigation, he said he “did hear that also.” He declined to describe the sheriff’s office’s role in the DCI investigation.
“The sheriff’s office knew the DCI was conducting this operation, and I believe we had some minimal involvement,” he said, adding the sheriff’s office was in a “support role.”
He referred questions about the investigation to the DCI.
The Gazette was unable to reach DCI officials Friday afternoon for comment.
Gazette Editor Sid Schwartz, and Gazette reporters Frank Schultz and Neil Johnson contributed to this report.