Phenix City schools placed on lockdown after man flees traffic stop

Phenix City authorities are searching for an unidentified man who fled after crashing a red Ford F-150 Friday morning in the area of Fletcher Drive and Summerville Road.

Police Chief Ray Smith said a patrol officer tried to stop the driver on Summerville Road around 9 a.m. after he was seen speeding. He turned onto Fletcher Drive and jumped from the moving truck, which crashed at the intersection.

No injuries were reported, Smith said.

The suspect fled on foot and crossed back over Summerville Road into the woods. Officials checked the area but couldn’t find the suspect.

“We’re pretty confident that he’s gotten into another vehicle and left the area,” Smith said. “Probably called someone to come get him.”

Authorities contacted the Phenix City Board of Education and recommended that Lakewood Primary School and Lakewood Elementary School, which are less than two miles away from the scene, be placed on lockdown.

“There were no threats toward the schools or indications that the suspect was going to the schools,” confirmed Capt. Jason Whitten with the Phenix City Police Department.

Phenix City Schools Superintendent Randy Wilkes said that the two schools went on “soft lockdown” for about 15 minutes Friday morning, which means all students and staff remained in the school building and the external doors were checked.

Wilkes said the “soft lockdown” ended after Smith called and confirmed that there wasn’t a potential for danger in the area anymore.

School officials used automated messaging to notify parents and guardians about the disruption and how it was resolved, Wilkes said.

“I have to commend law enforcement for working with our people and the way we used our school safety plan,” Wilkes said.

As an extra precaution, Wilkes said, all physical education classes on the Lakewood campus containing both schools remained inside through the rest of the day.

Sarah Robinson: 706-571-8622, @sarahR_92