COLUMBIANA - A simple request to use a restroom turned into a Level 1 lockdown at the Columbiana High School Wednesday morning.
Police Chief Tim Gladis said the school reported shortly before 11:30 a.m. an elderly man who was let into the building did not follow the proper protocol for signing in, and could not be found after using the boys' restroom.
The man reportedly walked up to the building and requested to be let inside because he had to use the bathroom.
Gladis said school staff told the man to come to the office and sign in first, which is standard procedure. The man did go to the office, but did not sign in and went directly to the restroom instead.
Once inside the restroom the man waited shortly for one of the two available stalls, which were both occupied, but could not wait long enough and opted to relieve himself in the trash can.
"He becomes incapable of holding it in any longer and defecated in the trash can," Gladis said.
The man was not in the restroom for very long, according to reports, however a student in one of the stalls was able to capture the incident on his cell phone and uploaded the image on his Twitter account later that day.
The image shows a man seated on the trash can with his pants down around his ankles.
Gladis said school staff who saw the man before he entered the restroom did not perceive any indication of a threat and that the lockdown was implemented only on the basis that he did not follow the protocol of signing in.
"There was no visible firearm or anything. We are not sure what he was doing in that area," he said of the man being on school grounds.
"He did exactly what he needed to do," he added.
The school implemented the lockdown shortly after the man did not sign in, but he could not be found by police or school employees during the Level 1 sweep of the building, and Gladis said it is likely he left through a nearby exit door during the brief time before the lockdown took effect.
"He wasn't in there very long," he said.
The chief said someone did see him get into a car outside, but a description of the vehicle could not be provided.
Superintendent Don Mook said the school reacted to the situation not as threat but a potential problem.
"From a standpoint that once someone didn't sign out and we thought that there might be someone walking our building I think the process and procedure works very well," he said.
He explained a Level 1 lockdown means students are supposed to stay where they are and not leave the premises.
"We checked all areas of the building where it might be a possibility of someone hanging out and being anywhere they shouldn't be. We swept the building and the police gave us an all clear and it worked the way it was supposed to work," he said.
When asked if the student would be in trouble for the nature of the use of his cell phone on school property, Mook said he could not offer details, but that the matter is under review.