Andover, Mass. — At 9:18 p.m. on Monday evening, Jennifer Elliott ’94, Dean of Students and Residential Life, sent an email alerting the Andover community that a man with five outstanding warrants was believed to have run into the Cochran Bird Sanctuary, a 65-acre woodland area on Andover’s campus.
“The police believe that this individual ran into the Sanctuary,” Elliott wrote in her email. “He is wearing a gray hoodie and jeans; he is Hispanic, 36-years old and 5’4”… Do not go into the Sanctuary.”
Boarding students were advised to return to their dormitories, and day students were asked to proceed to either the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library or George Washington Hall.
The suspect was later identified by the Andover Police Department (A.P.D.) to be Jose Rivera DeJesus.
According to police logs cited in “The Eagle-Tribune,” an A.P.D. officer received word that DeJesus was on his way to the Memorial Circle neighborhood in a cab. Officers attempted to stop the cab, but DeJesus took off on foot and hopped over the fence into the Sanctuary.
The Massachusetts State Police, in partnership with Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) and A.P.D., sent a search helicopter above the Sanctuary, where it proceeded to circle for roughly an hour. Several cars from the A.P.D. were also at the scene, according to Elliott’s email. The A.P.D. also reported that a K-9 unit assisted with the search.
“We had limited information from the Andover Police, they were working with our Public Safety, and our Public Safety was actually supporting their efforts. But at no time was [A.P.D.] concerned that any of our students were in danger; they needed our cooperation in terms of looking at, and looking in the Sanctuary where they suspected that this individual had fled,” said Elliott in an interview with The Phillipian.
A “be on the lookout” (BOLO) alert was sent to Andover residents, said Amy Morris, Senior Communications Specialist for the school, in a phone interview with The Phillipian.
“The town is completely in cooperation with campus security as well as the Massachusetts State Police,” Morris said. “At this point there’s no reason to believe that anyone is in danger, and no one has been hurt.”
According to the “Eagle Tribune,” DeJesus’s warrants include a probation violation, assault and battery, and larceny.
At 9:35 p.m., the text alert system was used to communicate with the Andover community as quickly as possible.
“The email was sent with an awareness that not all kids would be [on] email, so that’s why we sent text alert as quickly as we could,” said Elliott in an interview with The Phillipian. “Then we tried to follow-up with parents to give them an update, but obviously… the most important issue was trying to make sure that kids were safe and that the kids had information.”
At 10:35 p.m., Elliott informed students and faculty members in a follow-up email that the Andover Police Department search had been called off, as the suspect was believed to have left the immediate area.
Elliott said Tom Conlon, Director of Public Safety, is in regular contact with the A.P.D so that Andover is notified immediately of anything that may impact the safety of its community.
“The Andover Police… is always highly communicative. And we reach out to the Andover Police in that way, but at this point we have no reason to believe that the individual has any need to be on our campus – that not something we are worried about,” said Elliott.
As of yet, the police are still locating DeJesus. Police officials are asking the public to call 911 with any information related to the search.