Man arrested after third disturbance at elementary school in two weeks forces lock down

LAKE ELSINORE — A man who has caused at least three disturbances within the last two weeks at Lake Elsinore Elementary was arrested early Thursday evening, March 29, when he once again entered onto the campus and caused the school to go into lock down.

Although school had already let out for the day many students, teachers and administrators were still on the campus for the school’s “THINK Together” after school program. The popular program provides students extra time and help to work on homework and projects, as well as provide an evening snack. The program ends every school night at 6 p.m., and parents had just begun arriving to pick up their children when  the man showed up on the campus again.

Because of the man’s alleged irrational and erratic behavior, administrators ordered the lock down and teachers, students and parents found themselves huddling in locked classrooms, many unsure at first what was happening to cause the sudden crisis and lock down.

Deputies arrested Robert Towery after he caused a third disturbance at Lake Elsinore Elementary in just two weeks. RSO booking photo

After an investigation authorities arrested 37-year-old, Lake Elsinore resident, Robert Wesley Towery III, Riverside Sheriff’s Lieutenant Kevin Smith explained after the man’s arrest. He was arrested after he reportedly attempted to flee from deputies who responded to the campus at 512 W. Sumner Avenue – less than a half mile from the police station.

Although Towery was later booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, he was released the day after his arrest after posting $5,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned at Murrieta’s Southwest Justice Center, June 20.

School District officials later explained Thursday’s incident was the third time in the last two weeks that Towery had entered onto the school’s campus and caused a disturbance by demanding to use the office’s telephone, according to Lake Elsinore Unified School District spokesperson Mark Dennis.

One of those disturbances reportedly frightened students and caused enough concern that school administrators called 911 to report the incident. However, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Lake Elsinore Police Station who responded to the school for that incident arrived after Towery had already left the campus.

Yesterday’s incident began just after 6 p.m., when Towery – who stands 6’2″ and weighs nearly 300 pounds – returned once again, demanding to use the school’s telephone. As with previous incidents, the man appeared “distraught” and was acting “erratically,” according to sheriff and school district officials.

Based on Towery’s unpredictable and aggressive behavior school administrators ordered the campus go into immediate lock down and called 911.

Deputies arrived at the school within minutes, while concerned teachers and parents kept the children still at the campus calm inside the locked and darkened classrooms. Many parents who weren’t at the school when the incident began were left wondering what was happening when they arrived to pick up their children – only to find the school locked down, with deputies first searching the campus and then leading the hulking man to a patrol vehicle after his apprehension and arrest.

When they arrived, deputies immediately began searching the campus as well as the surrounding area and soon located Towery lurking on the school’s campus. When Towery spotted deputies approaching he reportedly threw “an object” at them before trying to flee.

“After (a) short foot chase he was taken into custody without further incident,” said Smith.

Investigating deputies determined Towery was under the influence of a controlled substance and they discovered he was in possession of drug paraphernalia.

A Superior Court records search revealed Towery has prior convictions in Riverside County for driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance. He also has pending cases for petty theft and possession of a controlled substance.

No students, parents or teachers were injured during the incident.

Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Deputy Beaudet of the Lake Elsinore Police Department at (951) 245-3300. Callers can refer to incident file number L180880084 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.


Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 46, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.