North Gulfport Middle School taken off lockdown

North Gulfport Middle School taken off lockdown
There was already an increased police presence at the school Thursday because a student threatened to bring a weapon to class. (Photo source: WLOX)
There was already an increased police presence at the school Thursday because a student threatened to bring a weapon to class. (Photo source: WLOX)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport police held a press conference to address the perceived threat of gunfire at North Gulfport Middle School on Thursday.

Chief Leonard Papania confirmed that after officers entered the campus and secured the perimeter, they determined that there was no intruder.

As he reported, two students who he believes "were truly acting in good faith" notified staff members about hearing gunshots, which prompted the school to go into lockdown and begin an investigation.

"My heart goes out to these kids, that's a lot to carry, a whole lot to care for a child and an educator. We send them to safe places to learn and that's what we've got to continue to have," he explained.

Papania also took time to salute the students and staff's preparedness. He said, "What they did was the individual classrooms barricaded and locked the doors and put items in front of the door to make it difficult for an intruder to enter. It was a very quiet place when we entered, and I'll  commend our educators for protecting our children today."

Parents arrived on campus were told to park and stay inside their vehicles.

Parents were required to present photo identification before their children were released to them. A group of parents stood waiting in the parking lot of the school before the lockdown was called off.

Chief Leonard Papania said there was nothing to indicate an immediate threat, and classes have been in session all day.

The school was hit with three false reports beginning last night when there was a threat of a student bringing a gun to school. That was proven false last night. This morning, police say there was a report of an intruder on campus. In the process of investigating that false report, phone calls came in about shots being fired.

Chief Papania took the time to talk to students in the gym and parents outside trying to calm everyone after this incident.

There was no viable threat, but police say there are several students who have been detained. Papania said that the calls of shots fired came from personal cell phones from the students. He said it is yet to be determined if there was criminal intent behind the phone calls.

Papania said they will continue to be a police presence at the school and parents should feel safe in allowing their children to return to school.

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