Armed robbery suspect on run in Lake Elmo

Business, Oak-Land JHS go on lockdown during search for gunman

By HANNAH JOHNSON – Stillwater Gazette

LAKE ELMO – A Lake Elmo business and junior high school went under lock-down this morning as the Washington County Sheriff’s deputies pursued an armed robbery suspect.

Between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. today, the WCSO received a robbery in progress call, according to WCSO Commander Cheri Dexter.

The homeowner reporting the robbery followed the suspects to give deputies an exact location. When deputies caught up with the suspects, the group abandoned their vehicle at Lake Elmo Avenue and 10th Street in Lake Elmo.

Deputies apprehended some of the suspects, but Dexter could not confirm how many were in custody. One suspect was still on the loose this morning and was armed with a firearm, Dexter added.

Deputies and and a Woodbury Police officer pursued the suspect on foot, which led them to Gruber Pallets Inc., a company located behind the Vali-Hi Drive-In on Hudson Boulevard. That business and Oak-Land Junior High on Manning Avenue were put under lock-down during the search for the suspect.

"The suspect never entered the business and never went into the school, but we gave them both a warning to go under a lock-down while we search the area," Dexter said.

Officers cleared Gruber Pallets Inc. around 9 a.m. this morning and moved northeast in their search for the suspect.

Several fields and some wooded areas were within the business and the junior high, requiring a helicopter from State Patrol to help in search. As of 9:30 a.m. today, the suspect had not been located.

Dexter said officers believe they know the suspect’s identity and will continue to search the area. About 10 WCSO officers and a Woodbury officer responded to the search.

A spokeswoman for Stillwater Area School District confirmed that Oak-Land J.H. went into a lock-down as a precautionary measure due to safety and security protocols. All students were safe and in their first hour class when the school locked-down. Officers cleared the junior high area around 9:30 a.m. and the school resumed normal activity.