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Suspect in Cortez police pursuit gets away on foot near school

Suspect flees on foot near Mesa Elementary School

A Cortez police chase on Wednesday afternoon led to a brief lockdown at Mesa Elementary School after a man fled on foot into Hawkins Preserve.

According to police, a traffic stop about 2:15 p.m. led to a chase when a man refused to pull over for an officer. An officer at the scene said the man abandoned a vehicle outside the Handy Mart gas station on South Broadway. The suspect then ran toward Hawkins Preserve, where police pursued him on foot but failed to catch him.

Police Lt. Andy Brock said the suspect, Robert McClendon, had two felony warrants from Texas. He said police did not believe he was armed.

Brian Stokley, manager of the Handy Mart, was about to deliver a pizza when he saw the southbound driver pull into the store parking lot and drive around back.

“He drove into the northbound lane and into our south driveway, going probably 60 mph with its tires smoking,” he said. “I called 911, and police arrived right away.”

Brock said McClendon had a female passenger who was not suspected of a crime. Officers released the suspect’s vehicle to her after searching the Hawkins Preserve area.

As of Thursday morning, McClendon was at large. Brock said police continued to search for him.

Mesa Elementary School, on Seventh Street between South Broadway and South Cedar Street, went on lockdown for about 5 minutes, human resources director Dan Porter said. Students had left the building because it was an early release day. The school remained in its normal lockout status with staff inside.

Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said some patrol deputies responded to the scene, but were told the police had enough officers to handle the situation.

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