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Suspect in threat to Montezuma-Cortez schools is identified

Dolores district cancels classes; Montezuma-Cortez resumes classes after lockout

The suspect who allegedly made an unsubstantiated threat toward Montezuma-Cortez schools was apprehended Friday afternoon in Cortez after the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office located his car.

“The Sheriff’s Department located his vehicle behind the old courthouse,” Patrol Lt. Andy Brock said. “He was inside the old courthouse seeking food stamps.”

The suspect was identified as Michael Billy Williams, according to police Sgt. Dave Allmon. Brock said Williams would appear in court on Monday.

According to Brock, Williams made overt threats over the phone to a government agency in Larimer County, which tracked his phone to Montezuma County and reported the incident to local authorities.

Williams has been charged with menacing and threats to an educational institution and has been jailed in the Montezuma County Detention Center.

“We had a lot of good help from a lot of good people, and we hope he gets some help,” Brock said.

The threat put Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 District school on “heightened alert” for about an hour on Friday afternoon.

The Montezuma-Cortez district said it was notified by local law enforcement officials that “an unsubstantiated, nonspecific threat made to schools” was telephoned to a government agency in Denver by a Montezuma County resident.

The school district announced a lockout on its Facebook page about 12:30 p.m.

“Students will be kept inside until we receive clearance from law enforcement,” Haukeness told The Journal. RE-1 schools have a heightened law enforcement presence and are in lockout status, with all exterior doors locked, she said.

Dolores School District RE-4A announced at 1 p.m. that it canceled classes for remainder of the day for students in preschool through high school.

“You will need to come to the school to sign out and pick up your child,” the district said on its website. “We have been notified by Sheriff Nowlin that the subject has been apprehended as of 12:53 p.m. However, due to the number of students who have gone home, we will go ahead and dismiss early.”

The Montezuma-Cortez district ended its lockout about an hour after it began.

“As of 1:30 p.m., the district was made aware that the suspect has been apprehended,” Superintendent Lori Haukeness wrote in an email to The Journal. “Schools are no longer on heightened alert, and school will resume as normal.”

The Journal received the same news release from M-CHS Principal Jason Wayman.

Earlier on Friday, Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said his office and the Cortez Police Department were trying to find the source of the threat.

“It is an adult,” Nowlin said. “He was angry about something and said he was going to come and shoot up a school.”

The threat did not mention a specific school, according to Haukeness.

Shortly after the district announced its lockout on Facebook, The Journal received an email from the district’s parent list with the same message. The message is also posted on the district’s website.

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