Suspect in case that led to Key West High lockdown still on the loose

The Key West Police Department K-9 unit gets ready to go into action Monday.
The Key West Police Department K-9 unit gets ready to go into action Monday.

A reported armed robbery near Key West High School was still under investigation Tuesday after causing a student and staff lockdown Monday afternoon at the school.

Key West Police Department spokeswoman Alyson Crean said police received a call at 12:40 p.m. Monday from attorney Merrell Sands, 69, who claimed he was robbed at gunpoint on the 1500 block of Fourth Street.

"He reported that a black male in his late teens or early 20s robbed him at gunpoint, then fled in the direction of the high school," Crean said.

She said Sands reported and a wallet stolen.

Law enforcement fanned out across the area of the Flagler Avenue campus and went door to door trying to locate the robber. City police were joined by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Highway Patrol and the FBI.

Students were held on campus as police surrounded the perimeter of the school starting at 12:45 p.m. Several Key West police officers had their guns drawn. Neighbors stayed inside, with the exception of Howard Harris, a 30-plus year resident who lives on the same block where the robbery was reported.

"I just came out of my laundry room and there was two cops," Harris said. "It startled me; this is unusual for this neighborhood."

The lockdown ended at 2:15 p.m. while the suspect remained on the loose. Detectives are still investigating.

The incident alone would have been scary but it came just days after a student at Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, Ore., shot to death nine people on campus, then killed himself. The victims ranged in age from 18 to 67.