On a typical day, mom of four Crystal Botkin puts one child on a bus at 7:10 and, a little later, walks a second child to the Grubert Avenue bus stop, but Thursday was anything but typical.
"This morning there was a lot of cops riding around the neighborhood and going back and forth just looking around, and it was kind of scary," says Botkin.
It was her daughter that first noticed the officers. About 20 police officers and two canine units had been in the neighborhood since 5 a.m., searching for two prison escapees.
"It kind of worried me. I was wondering if it was safe to take my child to the bus stop or not."
Concerned, Botkin decided against it. Instead the child's grandmother dropped her off at school. However, many parents did let their kids walk to the bus stop or to school. That's pretty typical in that neighborhood because the middle and elementary schools just down the road.
Crystal says it upsets her that she wasn't told about the escaped prisoners who were eventually caught just one block from the bus stop.
"It would have made things seem a little bit better. I wouldn't have been worried about things. You'd feel a little bit safer."
However, in Staunton there is no 'Reverse 911' system to warn neighbors. So instead, officers had to communicate with the schools district and employees.
"We notified the schools early that morning. Then as crossing guards were coming out, the officers in the area notified them. 'Hey, if you see anything let us know. You all have cell phones?' and then we also notified the school again to let all the bus drivers know," explains Officer Lisa Klein.
Klein says the kids and residents were never in any immediate danger. The escapees didn't have a violent criminal history, in fact, they were already out in the community on work release. Also, there was no indication that they were armed.
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