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Helicopter search prompts school safety measures

CARLSBAD — Mission Estancia Elementary ushered around 50 students who were outside the campus inside its building at around 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday in response to a police helicopter flying overhead.

The students were asked to stay inside the school until 3:30 p.m., according to Patti Neil, office manager with the school.

Neil said the school didn’t go into a full-on lockdown; parents were allowed to come and go inside the school.

The school’s request came about because the helicopter overhead scared some students and the elementary wanted to ensure their safety, according to Neil.

Jodee Sasway, public information officer with the Carlsbad Police Department, said the helicopter was looking for a man who allegedly trespassed into a home in the 7000 block of Quebrada Circle, which is several blocks from the elementary.

The department received the call at 2:22 p.m. that afternoon, Sasway said.

A woman entered her garage and saw an unknown man, who is believed to have gained access through the doggy door. Upon seeing the woman, the suspect fled on foot.

No property was taken and no one was hurt, Sasway said. To help make contact with the man, the department requested helicopter assistance. The helicopter arrived on the scene at 2:37 p.m. and searched for the man until 3:25 p.m.

Sasway said the decision to dispatch a helicopter doesn’t necessarily depend on the severity of the crime.

“There’s a misperception in the community that a helicopter means a catastrophic event occurred,” Sasway said. “We’ll request helicopter assistance if it’s available to help us.”

The suspect is described as a 21-year-old male with sandy blond hair who is between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet 1 inch tall.