A 21-year-old Winsted man was arrested Thursday in connection with threats of violence made against New Century Academy.
Several schools in Hutchinson were locked down Wednesday afternoon following reports that Christopher Woodrow Hecksel had allegedly posted a comment that he was “going to shoot up NCA,” according to a press release from Hutchinson police.
“We received a report that a person we don’t know … made a threat with our school’s name in it,” said Jason Becker, NCA director. “I called the police to come over, we put our students into lockdown, and then when we got more information we worked with the police on giving them that information.”
Following the report, police responded to NCA and it was locked down. West Elementary, Hutchinson Middle School, Hutchinson High School, Hutchinson Early Childhood Family Education and St. Anastasia Catholic School also went into lockdown as a precaution. NCA and Hutchinson Public Schools notified parents of the lockdown.
Hutchinson Public Schools Superintendent Daron VanderHeiden said the school district followed its crisis quick action guide when the lockdown alert was given.
“We used our external threat watch. … It gives everybody specific communications on exactly what to do,” VanderHeiden said. “The external threat watch is really set up for an external threat that is outside of the school … and basically we do a soft lock down, so lock all the doors, we position people to view the outside. We also have police presence at the school, but the threat is exterior to the building so the building operates as normal. We remain teaching and operating as we do inside the building, but we do not let students come and go without an escort.”
According to a Jan. 8 press release, police found and spoke to Hecksel and determined there was no immediate danger. The lockdown was lifted at about 2:20 p.m. Afterward, Becker and VanderHeiden said the schools were safe and procedures were executed as planned.
“The staff handled things great, and the police were a big help,” Becker said.
Through the investigation, police found evidence of Hecksel’s threats on social media and he was arrested on a traffic stop at 1 a.m. Thursday. He was taken to McLeod County Jail and is facing one felony count of threats of violence.