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Stolen lottery tickets cause school lockout in Martin County

Andrew Ekren arrested by deputies after search
Andrew Ekren was arrested in Martin County following a search after deputies said he stole lottery tickets from a nearby gas station.
Posted at 6:00 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 18:46:51-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — An elementary school in Martin County was placed on a lockout Monday afternoon after deputies said a man stole hundreds of dollars in lottery tickets from a Stuart gas station.

The sheriff's office said the suspect walked into a Mobil on the Run in Stuart, grabbed lottery tickets and ran from the business.

The man led police on a short pursuit before crashing his car near Southwest Martin Highway and Southwest Citrus Boulevard. He then fled on foot and hid in a wooded area.

Law enforcement arrived and set up a perimeter near Citrus Grove Elementary, prompting a lockout at the school.

After two hours of searching, the suspect, Andrew Owen Ekren, 31, of Virginia was taken into custody just after 4:30 p.m. in the Canopy Creek subdivision.

A woman who was in the vehicle with Ekren was also found hiding in a portable toilet. Authorities said she had out-of-state warrants and will be arrested on those charges.

The sheriff's office said Ekren has a history of stealing lottery tickets along with other crimes.

Authorities said the car that Ekren was driving was reported stolen in Palm Beach County.

The lockout at the school, which had already been dismissed for the day, was lifted at 4:45 p.m., according to Martin County School District Safety and Security Director Francesco Frangella.

Frangella said a lockout is defined as police activity in the area, causing the school to shut down its campus and no one is allowed in or out of the building. However, business continues as usual inside the school. Staff are on a heightened alert should that incident come on campus, which would then prompt a lockdown.