State College, Pa- Many described Wednesday afternoon as a scary situation at State College Area High School. Police responded to the school just before 12:30 pm to investigate concerns of a student possessing a gun.
WTAJ’s Evan Hinkley was the only reporter on scene as the school announced it was being put on lockdown.
“May I have your attention please we are on lockdown…. may I have your attention please we are on lockdown.” That was the message heard over the school’s public address system.
The lockdown lasted 10 minutes as policed searched the school to find the student.
No students were harmed. No gun was found.
Both school officials and police held a joint press conference, following the lockdown, where more information was released.
Here’s what we know:
Polce determined that no gun was brough into the school. They say a student did bring a bullet into the school, and was showing it around to students.
According to State College Area School District (SCASD) Superintendent Dr. Robert O’Donnell, a school resource officer was contacted and found the bullet, but no gun. O’Donnell said after that the incident was initially resolved.
But, a rumor circulated among students that the same student who brought in the bullet, also brought in a gun. According to Dr. O’Donnell, no district staff were made aware of this rumor.
Police say a male student texted or called his dad about the rumored gun. The father then called 9-1-1 and a few minutes later, a total of 19 officers from State College Borough Police were on scene, along with two officers from Ferguson Township Police.
The school went on lockdown, which lasted from 12:34pm to 12:44pm.
When the lockdown was announced, students were in class. They received no prior notice of the lockdown earlier in the day, so many knew it was not a drill.
Dr. O’Donnell spoke to the school’s reaction to the lockdown:
“You’re gonna have a mix when you have that many people, employees and students. When you hear a principal make that announcement… knowing that there was no pre-planned drill or practice…. this is naturally alarming. Within our community naturally when you hear something like this, your heart begins racing.”
O’Donnell said the school’s phone lines were ringing frequently during the lockdown. SCASD put out a notification to parents via email, and through an application alert system (available on cell phones) to let parents know that all students were safe.
Currently, police are still investigating how the rumor spread from a bullet to incorrect reports of a gun brought into school.