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Sheriff: Woman made false threat at Herreid School to evade arrest

Police lights (file)
Police lights (file)

A woman is behind bars after authorities say she called a in a false threat warning of a gunman at Herreid School in north central South Dakota.

It began shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday. The suspect, who the Campbell County Sheriff's Office identified as a 44-year-old Sioux Falls woman, entered Herreid School, went to the office and took some documents. She got back in their vehicle and drove away.

The suspect was stopped shortly afterwards about two miles south of Herreid, according to a statementfrom the sheriff's office. A deputy pulled her over because she was allegedly driving a vehicle reported stolen in Sioux Falls. She refused commands to get out of the vehicle. She then told the deputy she had dropped off a male with a gun at the school in Herreid.

The woman drove off and the deputy pursued her, according to the statement. During the chase, the suspect's vehicle exceeded speeds of 115 miles per hour.

A few minutes into the chase, someone called 911 warning of a male with a gun at Herreid School. The deputy ended the pursuit and responded to the school.

It was initially unclear who made the 911 call, but the sheriff's office later said they believe the suspect called the fake threat in as a ruse to end the deputy's pursuit of her.

Deputies, along with other law enforcement officers, entered the school and began clearing classrooms. No one was found. Students and staff were allowed to re-enter the building.

The woman was later arrested early Thursday morning by the Campbell and Walworth County sheriff's offices, according to the statement. She faces several charges, including making terroristic threats and felony possession of a stolen vehicle.

An early statement from the school said the suspect never entered the building, but authorities later used surveillance footage to confirm she did go inside. The woman was not armed, and investigators believe she did not intent to cause harm.

Herreid School was closed Thursday as a precaution as the investigation continues.

Josh Chilson is the news director at South Dakota Public Broadcasting. A Florence, S.D. native, Josh graduated with a journalism degree from South Dakota State University. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and videographer, and most recently as managing editor for Dakota News Now. Josh is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.