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Lockdown lifted at school as search for shoplifting suspect continues

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PALMETTO, FL (WWSB) - The lockdown has been lifted at Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, but the search for a shoplifting suspect continues.

Chief of Police Scott Taylor tells ABC7 the man stole a generator from Walmart, which is about a mile from the school. He ran into a heavily wooded area and police were actively searching until a thunderstorm rolled through. Because of the intense rain and lightning, the search was suspended and officers established a perimeter.

A Palmetto Police officer working as a school resource officer for Manatee School for the Arts was doing a routine patrol on campus when he spotted the suspect near the school hiding in bushes. Though there's no indication the suspect is armed, the school, which has a very large, was put in lockdown out of an abundance of caution.

Chief Taylor says somehow, a rumor started on social media that there was an armed man on campus, but he says those rumors are unfounded. Students at the school are being released and are safe to go home, even though the suspect remains at large as police say he has returned to the wooded area and is surrounded. Chief Taylor believes they'll have him in custody soon.

The suspect is described as a white male in his 40s or 50s, bald or balding, wearing a thin black shirt that is short sleeved or has rolled up long sleeves with black shorts. He has a tribal tattoo on one arm.

If you see him in the area, call Palmetto Police.

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