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New Town lock down: Armed man prompts schools to take action

NEW TOWN -- An armed man wanted on drug charges barricaded himself inside a New Town home Wednesday, causing neighboring homes to be evacuated and heightened security at nearby schools.

FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said the FBI was working with state and local law enforcement to peacefully resolve the situation involving a man wanted by law enforcement in Colorado on narcotics charges.

The situation was fluid, but Loven said he believed the man was alone in a residence of the western North Dakota town.

New Town Police Chief Art Walgren said the man was heavily armed, believed to have at least one high-powered rifle.

"Every attempt to get him out has failed," Walgren said about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Officers received a report early Wednesday morning after the man broke into a residence, Walgren said. The Minot SWAT team was among the agencies responding. The limited conversation officers have had with the man have been confrontational, Walgren said. Attempts to get him to surrender, including five rounds of tear gas, were unsuccessful, Walgren said.

The man has indicated that his brother died recently in a police shootout in Colorado and he wants to go out the same way and take officers with him, Walgren said.

Ten to 15 homes in the area were evacuated, Walgren said.

Loven declined to release the man's name and said he had no information about a standoff in Colorado.

New Town Public Schools Superintendent Marc Bluestone said he heard from law enforcement shortly after 5 a.m. that a community incident was in progress.

He decided to put the schools under lockdown and not run buses on Sixth through Ninth streets. Bluestone said that area of town is blocked off by law enforcement and he believes the incident is on Ninth Street, about three blocks north of the high school.

Students were only allowed to leave the building if a parent picked them up, Bluestone said. About 30 parents picked up their children out of concern for their safety, Bluestone said.

If the standoff was not resolved by today, security measures similar to those used Wednesday would be used again, Bluestone said.

"Their level of awareness and concern is higher just because of what happened in Newtown, Conn.," he said.

But school officials were keeping in contact with law enforcement and believed the threat level is low, Bluestone said. "I believe my son is a lot safer here at school than he is at home," Bluestone said.

New Town Public Schools called off classes Nov. 19 after three students and their grandmother died in a shooting at a New Town home.

Loven said that investigation is ongoing and the FBI plans to release a synopsis of its investigation after it's complete.