Murder suspect pursued by S.C. police runs through elementary school; outraged parents storm building


Monday, November 27th 2006, 9:19 pm
By: News On 6


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A murder suspect ran through an elementary school Monday as he fled police trying to arrest him, and schools in the area were locked down while officers tried to find him.

The man was inside Watkins-Nance Elementary School only briefly, entering through the front and running out a rear door, Richland County sheriff's spokesman Chris Cowan said.

Police didn't know whether the man was armed, but he was considered dangerous, Cowan said.

Officers had gone to a nearby house with arrest warrants for two men wanted in a killing during an apparent robbery at a motel last week.

They arrested Larry Kenneth Brown, 47, but the second man, Eugene Frost, 34, saw officers when he arrived at the house and fled on foot, police said.

Watkins-Nance and three other schools in the area were locked down, with no one allowed to leave or enter, while police searched for Frost.

Parents were not allowed to take their children out of classes early, prompting about a dozen of them to storm the locked school when a mail courier exited.

The angry parents got no farther than the lobby, where a school police officer and administrator persuaded them to go back outside.

"All we want is the kids to make sure they're absolutely OK," said Teresa Blanding, 30, a parent of two girls at the school.

Other parents were concerned about the school's response.

"The doors should have been locked from the beginning," said Matthew Hopkins, 30, who also has two daughters at the school.

There is no districtwide policy about entrance doors, said Richland 1 district spokeswoman Karen York said.

The sheriff's spokesman said deputies had chased Frost only a few minutes before he entered the school.

Surveillance footage showed Frost navigating his way through school hallways and leaving the building after about three minutes, Cowan said.

Students were dismissed at the normal time, and school officials sent a two-paragraph letter home explaining the incident. Some students walked home.

Officers told administrators they believed Frost had already fled the area, the district spokeswoman said.

But Cowan said Monday evening that officers were "still searching the area" for him.

Frost has a long criminal record, including aggravated assault and battery conviction, strong-armed robbery, and drug and weapons possession, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.