Three arrested after Petaluma school lockdown in hunt for suspected thieves
Published: Friday, May 24, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:34 p.m.
A high-speed police pursuit that put a Petaluma elementary school on lockdown Friday afternoon resulted in the arrest of three suspects wanted in connection with a reported theft at a Windsor AT&T store.
The men were arrested within 20 minutes after a vehicle chase on Highway 101 that began about 1:35 p.m. and reached speeds of 100 mph, ending when the suspects bailed out of their vehicle near Petaluma's East Washington and Ellis streets, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office reported.
Arrested moments later on suspicion of burglary, vehicular evading and resisting arrest were Jack Fuller, 28; Rashaw Bailey, 31; and Leon Gray, 31, all from Oakland.
Bailey also was arrested on drug charges stemming from an existing Alameda County warrant.
Nearby McKinley Elementary School was locked down from approximately 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. while authorities searched for a possible fourth suspect.
Sheriff's Lt. Tim Duke said authorities were still investigating that possibility Friday evening, but that the initial report of a fourth suspect may have been in error.
Marin County law enforcement also were in contact with local authorities because the suspect vehicle Friday — a gold Audi sedan with dealer plates — matched the description of a vehicle used in a reported theft Tuesday from a Mill Valley AT&T store, Duke said.
Friday's pursuit was the second high-speed chase along Highway 101 in Sonoma County this week. The first, from Santa Rosa to Petaluma on Wednesday, reached speeds of 110 mph on Stony Point Road during the morning commute and ended with the gunpoint arrest of two suspects in an attempted burglary.
The Friday incident began with the reported theft of several smartphones by at least three men at the AT&T Cellular World store on Hembree Lane in Windsor, the sheriff's office reported.
A sheriff's deputy, responding to a description of the suspect vehicle, attempted a traffic stop on Highway 101 south of Santa Rosa, near Todd Road, but the vehicle failed to yield, Duke said.
Further south, officers clocked it at speeds up to 100 mph and noted it using the center median and the shoulder to pass other motorists.
The vehicle excited at Washington Street and headed west to an apartment complex near the Petaluma Town Plaza shopping center and McKinley Elementary. Henry 1, the sheriff's office helicopter, hovered overhead and a large group of law enforcement converged on the area.
Two suspects were quickly located and arrested and a third was arrested minutes later after being spotted by witnesses, Duke said.
Petaluma school officials issued a lockdown notice for McKinley Elementary after being contacted by police. An automatic phone message about the lockdown went out to parents.
All classes were in a multipurpose room at the time for a fourth grade play, McKinley Principal Matthew Harris said. The doors and gates remained locked while about 50 parents gathered outside to pick up children at the end of the school day, at 2:45 p.m. Harris said he addressed the parents about the situation.
“Everyone was patient and calm about it,” he said.
The lockdown was lifted by 3 p.m. and a second phone message was sent out to parents, Harris said. A third message about the incident was planned for Friday night.
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