The campus of Wadley High School went on full lockdown Tuesday morning when a verbally threatening intruder made his way onto campus.
The incident was neutralized without violence, and all students and faculty were unharmed when Patrick James Smith was arrested by Wadley police and charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and harassment.
The lockdown and Smith's arrest were the culmination of a chain of events that began Sunday afternoon. Wadley principal Lori Carlisle was headed home from campus Sunday around 3 p.m. when she spotted Smith, 35, near the school's football field. (Smith resides at 18121 Hwy. 77.)
"So I turned right and I go up to him and I say, 'Can I help you?'" Carlisle said. "Well, I can't understand hardly anything he said."
According to Carlisle, amid a string of nearly unintelligible verbiage Smith mentioned the names of Paul and Terrance Wilkes and was speaking in a threatening tone of voice.
Terrance Wilkes was a Wadley football star who was murdered in 2006 just before his graduation. Paul is Terrance's surviving older brother.
Carlisle left that initial interaction with Smith, and she immediately notified law enforcement of his presence at the school.
"It bothered me that this man is on my campus on a Sunday afternoon," Carlisle said. "So I contacted law enforcement and had a no trespass order issued. They went to his house and had a conversation with him and told him he was not to come back on my campus."
Smith apparently violated that order Tuesday morning as students were arriving at the school for the start of their day.
"He walked on [campus] this morning in the middle of unloading buses, breakfast, unloading the kids. It makes me sick," Carlisle said Tuesday.
A student first spotted him coming towards the main classroom buildings, again from the direction of the football field. Word of his presence quickly made its way to Carlisle who went out to confront him.
"I actually got to him first. I grabbed him and brought him to the office," Carlisle said. "We could have been in an all-out brawl, but I'll be damned if he's going to get loose from me. Because I've got kids everywhere. I've got little kids. I was ready to throw down if I needed to. I grabbed him by the arm, and I said, 'You're coming with me now.' And he did. He had some words along the way, but he came to my office. And we kind of locked him in until he tried to come out, and we had people stationed there and wouldn't let him come out."
That's when Carlisle initiated the campus-wide lockdown, to assure the safety of the students and staff members.
"I didn't know if he had a gun in his pocket," Carlisle said. "He didn't have one out. But I didn't know, and as bizarre as his language was, you could understand the f-words and everything else he was saying. But he never got physical, thank God."
Carlisle described what he said inside her office as, "Very threatening. Very, very threatening."
Carlisle and her staff were able to keep him contained until law enforcement arrived moments later and removed Smith from the campus.
"And that's when we went out of lockdown," Carlisle said.
The school remained on high alert for the rest of the day Tuesday, but no further incident was reported.