August 27, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
69°F

Man, 24, who put Highland High into lockdown getting psych exams

Medina County sheriff’s deputies are investigating why a 24-year-old Medina man tried to enter Highland High School twice Tuesday, prompting a school-wide lockdown.

Justin M. Dixon, 24, of 595 Canterbury Lane, was arrested in the high school parking lot Tuesday afternoon.

He told police he was trying to visit a girl he befriended on Facebook. But Sheriff Tom Miller said Wednesday that story didn’t hold up.

Justin Dixon

Justin Dixon

He said deputies are trying to find out why Dixon went to the school, but said he doesn’t believe Dixon had intentions to harm anyone.

“At first blush, it doesn’t seem like it was meant to be a dangerous situation,” Miller said. “We have to take precautions to find out what was going on.”

No weapons were recovered from Dixon or his car. Dixon is charged with criminal trespassing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Miller said a photo of Dixon was sent to each of the schools in the Highland district and said they would alert the school district when Dixon is released from jail.

It doesn’t appear he’ll be released any time soon. After an arraignment Tuesday, Dixon’s bail was set at $25,000 and he’s required to have a mental health evaluation that shows he isn’t a danger to himself or others before he can be released. That mental health evaluation is under way, Miller said.

“He’s in police custody and he’ll be here for some time,” Miller said. “It’s going to take some time to get the evaluation done — at least a few days.”

If Dixon is released, conditions of his bail will prohibit him from being on Highland school property and from having contact with anyone younger than 18.

Miller commended the fast actions of school district employees who locked down the school and called police.

Highland Superintendent Catherine Aukerman said Dixon got the attention of school employees when he went to the main office and asked to set up an appointment with a guidance counselor. Staff at the main office turned him away, but the high school principal and other staff saw him approaching the school’s lower level and called police and called for the lockdown.

“We’ve conducted numerous lockdown drills, so our students and staff knew what to do,” Aukerman said. “They responded exactly as we expected them to.”

Aukerman said that in addition to the lockdown, which lasted about 30 minutes, all doors to the building are locked during the day when students are in class. Visitors can get in the main doors and speak with main office staff, but visitors have to be buzzed into the building, which staff did not do in Dixon’s case.

“All our buildings doors are secure and locked at all times and each of our buildings are equipped with a secure entry system,” she said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4603 or at lgenson@medina-gazette.com.