Threats prompt South Caldwell lockdown

May. 02, 2014 @ 01:10 PM

Reports that a South Caldwell High School student who was not on campus was making threats against someone at the school prompted officials to put the school on a lockdown Thursday morning while sheriff’s deputies looked for the student, who was found without incident, officials said.

But school officials denied much scarier stories that some parents have heard, including from students, about what happened. Libby Brown, public information officer of Caldwell County Schools, said one parent called and said her child texted her about two gunmen running through the hallways of South Caldwell.

“You have these situations that become very imaginative,” Brown said. “People are being creative of what they think might be going on on campus.”

About 10:15 a.m. the school went into a “soft” lockdown after a relative of a male student called the school about 10:15 a.m. and reported the student was irate and making threats, said Steve Stone, superintendent of the Caldwell County Schools. In a soft lockdown, all outside doors are locked and outdoor activities canceled, while inside classes continue as scheduled.

School officials called the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office because “we wanted to protect that individual and to seek help for the young man dealing with those mental issues,” Stone said.

The switch to a hard lockdown -- when all inside doors in the school also are locked -- came after a parent of the student called the school saying the problem had escalated, Brown said.

“We got another report that the same student became armed at some time, but this was all off-campus,” Brown said. “We went into hard lockdown because it was a perceived threat. Until that student was apprehended, we were going to remain in hard lockdown.”

The student was found by Caldwell County sheriff’s deputies within minutes, and the lockdown was lifted at 10:25 a.m.

Sawmills Elementary School also went on soft lockdown as a site-based decision by School Resource Officer Deputy Jon Hawn. It was lifted once South Caldwell gave the all-clear.

South Caldwell’s parents were notified both when the lockdown went into place and once it was lifted.

“Soft lockdown and hard lockdown went extremely well,” Stone said. “Again, I’m impressed with how the staff handled that. I applaud the school.”

Brown said, “We felt that (the hard lockdown) was needed and necessary today. It never materialized as a situation of a threat on campus, but there was a perceived threat.”

As of late Thursday afternoon, Detective Aaron Barlowe of the sheriff’s office reported that the had not been charged. He said there might be an arrest later.