Westby schools and businesses went into lockdown Sept. 29 following reports of a man carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle walking near the downtown area.
The subject, described as a young Caucasian man wearing blue jeans and a brown shirt, was seen walking east on West State St., near West Ave., and again on Second St., at Polly Rude Way, walking south.
According to the Westby Police Department, the subject was also carrying foam ear muffs.
After two callers notified the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office in Viroqua at approximately 1:52 p.m., dispatchers contacted Interim Westby Police Chief David Jefson.
He began searching the area where the subject was reportedly sighted, and also interviewed the reporting parties.
According to Dorothy Robson of the Westby Times, the Sheriff’s Office also notified Westby Area School District administrators, who placed the schools in a temporary lockdown.
At the same time, Robson added, an unspecified number of area businesses went into self-imposed lockdowns while Westby police, sheriff’s deputies and the Wisconsin State Patrol continued the search.
The law enforcement agencies failed to find anyone matching the subject’s description, but established a perimeter around schools until students were released for the day shortly after 3 p.m.
Vernon County Sheriff John Spears then placed an announcement with a local radio station that businesses could resume their regular activities.
In a press release, Jefson thanked schools and businesses for their response.
As of press time, the subject has still not been located. Jefson added that no crimes have been committed, and no information exists indicating the subject is or was a threat to the public.
He said his department is still searching for the suspect. Anyone with information should contact Westby police at 608-634-4411.