The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 25, 2007

Man's threats cause school lockdown

Robert Hovenstine faces charges

SELINSGROVE -- School officials placed Selinsgrove Area School District on partial lockdown Thursday after a man, later identified by police as Robert A. Hovenstine, 69, of Selinsgrove, threatened four students during an outside gym class.

Police said that between 8:30 a.m. and 9:10 a.m., Mr. Hovenstine, who was sitting across from the school property, yelled at the students, "I'd wonder what they say if I shot you."

The students then walked away. But when they returned, said the police, they were again approached by Mr. Hovenstine, who crossed onto school property. The students then reported the incident to school authorities.

Superintendent Frederick Johnson said students and faculty were kept indoors for more than four hours as borough police conducted an investigation.

"We are dealing with a situation and at this point in time we're just taking precautions," he told The Daily Item shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday.

Mr. Johnson said the man's comments were "very disturbing to us."

"We moved all the students inside and secured the buildings. Students and staff were instructed to stay inside," he said.

At the time, Mr. Johnson did not know the man's identity or the specific nature of his comments. But the man's comments prompted officials to heighten security.

Meanwhile, police discovered, Mr. Hovenstine had been involved in a suspicious person incident at Broad and Penn streets, earlier in the morning, before the high school incident.

Police said that prior information about Mr. Hovenstine indicated that he had made remarks about Columbine, and he had recently told mental health authorities that he possessed a shotgun.

Armed with an arrest warrant and a search warrant, police went to Mr. Hovenstine's residence. He was arrested at approximately 2:10 p.m.

A subsequent search of Mr. Hovenstine's home resulted in the seizure of two 12-gauge shotguns, ammunition and other weapons. He was arraigned in Middleburg.

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