LOVELL – Moments after New Suncook School secretary Linda Dunlea saw a man race by her office Monday morning, followed by a state trooper, she ordered a classroom lockdown over the public address system.

The man was 26-year-old Travis J. Blodgett of Sweden, who was being hunted by the FBI in connection with an armed bank robbery in New Hampshire. He was captured at gunpoint by Trooper Andre Paradis moments later in the school yard. He was not armed, MSP Lt. Col. John Dyer said.

“Because of the very quick thinking of the school secretary upon seeing what the situation was, she did a Level II condition lockdown,” SAD 72 Superintendent Gary MacDonald said by phone Wednesday. Level II security requires a complete lockdown under the school’s emergency response system, he explained.

The more than 200 students in grades kindergarten to five were shut into classrooms and told to stay away from windows and doors.

“The kids and the staff did exactly as they had been instructed to do,” MacDonald said. Most of them didn’t know whether the incident was a drill or real until after it was over, but some watched the arrest from windows, he said.

Dunlea sensed trouble when Blodgett came through the front door – the only door that is not locked – and proceeded down a hallway without checking at the front desk. She got up to see where he was going when a trooper came in the front door and asked, “‘Which way did he go?'” the superintendent said. She immediately ordered staff to secure classrooms.

The incident started at Blodgett’s home at 1136 Knights Hill Road, about a mile away from the school, when FBI agents and deputies from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office arrived to arrest him and his brother Avery, 24, who also lives there.

Each was charged with robbing the Ocean National Bank in Stratham, a small community west of Portsmouth, on Jan. 11, according to FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz. The car used in the robbery had Maine plates, officials said.

As agents with arrest warrants closed in on the brothers Monday morning, Avery was arrested, but Travis slipped out the back door, Marcinkiewicz said.

Travis fled into the woods and went to a nearby house on Smarts Hill Road, according to Maine State Police. The homeowner, who was inside the house when Blodgett intruded, called state police around 9:30 a.m.

But before police arrived, Travis took off on a snowmobile. Sgt. Mike Edes and Game Warden Chris Cloutier followed him, Lt. Col. John Dyer of the Maine State Police said Wednesday.

When police realized Blodgett could be headed toward the New Suncook School in neighboring Lovell, Trooper Andre Paradis drove in that direction, Dyer said.

When Paradis arrived at the school grounds, Dyer said he confronted Blodgett in the yard, and Blodgett ran into the school building. Paradis chased him down a hallway, through the cafeteria and out a side door, according to Dyer.

Police arrested Blodgett outside the kitchen door by the Dumpsters.

MacDonald said most of the students at the time were in class, but 15 minutes later they would have started to fill the cafeteria to eat lunch.

The principal went to each classroom to explain what had happened before teachers resumed instruction, he said.

Later Monday, the Blodgett brothers were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Concord, N.H., and are being held without bail, federal officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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