Montana schools locked down after armed robberies

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The University of Montana and several schools in Missoula were locked down Thursday morning while police searched for a suspect in two armed robberies.

Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh said the Motel 6 and the Taco Bell restaurant on East Broadway were robbed shortly after 9 a.m.

UM spokeswoman Peggy Kuhr said city and UM campus police believe the suspect looks like Gallatin County rape suspect Kevin Briggs, who escaped from an interview room at the Law and Justice Center in Bozeman on Feb. 1.

Bozeman police learned Briggs might have ties to the Missoula area, and police and UM issued alerts Wednesday to watch for him.

Less than an hour after the robberies, a suspect with a handgun gun and no jacket was seen running along Arthur Avenue near the university, when the temperature was minus 17. He was described as being 5 feet, 5 inches tall, wearing jeans, a dark blue hoodie and a white bandanna and carrying a plastic bag.

Briggs, 28, is described as being 5 feet, 5 inches tall with a medium build.

Welsh said the suspect might try to enter a building to get warm, so area residents were asked to lock their doors, and businesses were asked to secure their buildings.

Missoula College was also placed on lockdown, while Missoula County Public Schools locked down Paxson, Lewis and Clark and Rattlesnake elementary schools, Washington middle school, Willard and Sentinel high schools and the district's administration building.

Missoula Catholic Schools locked the doors at Loyola Sacred Heart High School and St. Joseph Elementary School.