Inmate escapes: Student spend day in locked down mode

Reporter: Al Pefley

Update, FRI 10:30 AM: Belle Glade schools were on partial lock down Thursday after an inmate escaped.

Teachers kept students in their classrooms as much as possible and restricted their movements on school grounds.

While the kids worked on their math problems, Gove Elementary School was faced with a problem of its own: an escaped jail inmate on the loose.

Twenty-six-year-old Jean Lafalaise, charged with burglary and grand theft, escaped from the West County Detention Center.

To keep the kids safe, the school went to a code yellow status and took the rare step of locking all the classroom doors.

Because of the heightened security, they could not be out in the school hallways unless they had a teacher with them. They were allowed to go the lunchroom, but only with an adult.

A sheriff's official says Lafalaise is believed to have escaped from an outdoor rec area that's surrounded by buildings, and, then, he somehow got up on the roof of the jail and fled.

Now, 24 hours later, deputies in Belle Glade are not doing a door-to-door search or full-scale manhunt saying they had no reason to believe he's still in the area.

But just to be safe, the school district decided to put all seven schools in Belle Glade under a partial lock down meaning children had limited movement and had to stay inside during the noon recess.

"It's good to know they have the schools on lock downs like that because somebody that's dangerous could very easily jump into a school," says a parent.

Another adds, "Not that worried because, I think, they have the protocols in place to protect our kids, so not concerned at all."

One disagrees, "I'm worried about that. I wish they would've called the parents. At least, we could've had an opportunity to pick up the children from school."

The code yellow was lifted about 1 p.m. Thursday, and the schools in Belle Glade returned to normal status. A school district spokeswoman could not determine why it was lifted at that time and could not offer an explanation.

Friday is a teacher workday, so kids won't be in school and won't have to worry about whether to impose another lock down.

Update, THU 12 PM: Schools in Blade Glades are under a code yellow lock down meaning students will remain in their classroom as much as possible.

But their classroom doors are not locked; however, students will not be allowed to go outside for afternoon recess. Schools will be dismissed at normal time.

This after a West County Detention Center inmate escaped. Police are searching for Jean Lafalaise. He faces numerous burglary charges and has family in the Belle Glade area.

Lafalaise is describes as a black male, 5'7", 200 pounds with dreadlocks and brown eyes.

If you have information on Lafalaise whereabouts, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS (8477).

Previously: Palm Beach County School Officials announce all schools in the Glades area will remain in lock down today.

Police are searching for an inmate who escaped from the West County Detention Center.

Officials report this is a code yellow lock down.

We'll bring you more information as it becomes available.