Biloxi school district uses active shooter hoax as teaching moment

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It was a scary scene. First responders, law enforcement and school officials surrounding school grounds expecting the worst.

“It’s very frightening,” said Biloxi School Superintendent Marcus Boudreaux. “I mean, we’ve got people who are shaken up right now because it was a real lockdown.”

The Biloxi Police Department received a call on its non-emergency phone line advising that there was an active shooter at Biloxi Junior High. As a result, the junior high, Biloxi High School and North Bay Elementary were locked down because of their proximity. Biloxi Upper Elementary also went on lock down as a precaution.

“You know, we did not know what was initially occurring,” Boudreaux said. “We just received that immediate call that there was an active shooter event going on at our junior high school.”

Police quickly determined the threat was a hoax that was part of a state-wide incident involving more than a dozen districts.

Schools were not in session for fall break, but teachers and other staff members were in training and had to be evacuated. Law enforcement gave the all-clear for all the schools by 10 a.m. But although the threat was not credible, it takes a toll, Boudreaux said.

“It’s traumatizing for people to have to go through that,” he said. “But what it does, it just shows us vastly how important it is that we have these procedures, that we practice these procedures, and that safety has got to always be our No. 1 concern.”

He said the response was immediate.

Biloxi Fire Department assistant chief Jason Davis said it was a group effort.

“We’re very grateful that we have a really good team here,” he said. “When I say team, I mean the city of Biloxi Police Department, fire department and AMR. We all try to work together. At the end of the day, we are one team to work together to make sure we keep the citizens and the visitors of Biloxi safe.”

It was that teamwork and some good planning that helped keep resources from stretching too thin.

“We had units coming early because of the event,” said Capt. Thomas Goldsworthy with the Biloxi Police Department. “So, we were able to take from those units that weren’t on their posts yet. We were able to pull from the shift. ... So, all those teams working together, we were able to hit four different schools within a short period of time.”

The FBI is also investigating the case.

Boudreaux added that there were some student athletes on campus preparing for a road trip as well as some students attending day care centers across the campuses who also had to be evacuated.

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