Columbia Public Schools placed under precautionary lockdown during car chase

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 | 5:24 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Columbia Public Schools were placed under a precautionary lockdown Tuesday morning during a police car chase that went through Boone County.

The suspect’s estranged wife worked at Delmar Cobble State School, and had received several phone calls from him, according to a Columbia Police Department news release. Police then asked the Columbia Public Schools system to place schools on lockdown as a precaution.

Derby Ridge and Parkade Elementary schools were placed under lockdown at 10:41 a.m., according to a Columbia Public Schools alert. At 11:10 a.m., all Columbia Public Schools were placed on modified lockdown during which all doors are locked and no one can exit or enter the building. The lockdowns were lifted after the chase left Columbia, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

Chris Belcher, Columbia Public Schools superintendent, sent a message to parents acknowledging the "heightened sense of awareness with regard to school safety in the days following the Connecticut school shooting."

"It is our belief that it is always better to react aggressively when we are notified of an incident that is ongoing with unclear and changing details to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff," Belcher wrote.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol pursued the suspect, who was driving a maroon Chevy Lumina on Interstate 70. The driver had outstanding felony warrants, according to the news release.

Trooper Darrin Haslag said the highway patrol determined a woman and child were inside the vehicle as the driver headed westbound on I-70. When that was determined, the car chase was abandoned and a helicopter followed the vehicle.

Haslag said the woman and child got out of the car around mile marker 155 on I-70, at which time Highway Patrol resumed the chase.

Police officers stationed vehicles at exit ramps along I-70 westbound, according to the news release.

“Columbia police were instrumental in keeping street traffic away, and aiding in the pursuit,” Haslag said.

The driver evaded two spike strips put in place by officers and exited I-70 at Lake of the Woods. He then continued northbound on U.S. 63, according to the news release.

The suspect, later identified as Daremiah Lajai Gibson, was taken into custody outside Macon after his vehicle ran out of gas, Haslag said.

Gibson was arrested on a felony probation and parole warrant, a felony fraud warrant in Warren County, a felony warrant for bad checks in Lincoln County and a warrant for driving while revoked in Franklin County. Various traffic charges are pending, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol news release.

Gibson is being held at the Shelby County Jail, according to the Highway Patrol's news release.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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