UPDATE: Cottonwood Middle School lockdown
COTTONWOOD -- Cottonwood Middle School was locked-down on the last day of classes before the Christmas break. Reportedly, a person with a gun was seen on campus. Several people were interviewed but no one was apprehended as a consequence of the incident. A statement from the district and Cottonwood Police said, "At this time there is no indication that a firearm was present on the campus."
Cottonwood Police report there was only a sighting by a student received by the school administration even though there were several other teachers and students in the same area as the reporting student. The student stated the person with the gun was a male with black hair, blue jeans, gray shirt, and carrying a handgun.
Within moments after the 11:45 a.m. alert, both school officials and police took precautions to assure the safety of students. The campus was immediately secured in order to keep students and staff safe and out of harm's way.
Cottonwood Police vehicles blocked all entrances to the Middle School and police in bulletproof vests, armed with assault rifles and shotguns, combed the campus for anything suspicious, but nothing was recovered.
District Superintendent Barbara U'Ren said the campus had been locked down, students would remain in their classrooms with the doors locked. No one was allowed onto or off of the campus during the police sweep, including parents.
Police conducted a thorough search of the school campus as well as Cottonwood Elementary School and the school district office. The elementary school had already released their students prior to the call.
"This unfortunate situation has been met with a prepared team of educators and law enforcement professionals," said U'Ren. "We are working collaboratively with local authorities to ensure the safety of students and staff. Timely information and updates were distributed to staff, parents and the community as it became available."
Many adults circled the campus to pick up students, waiting for the all clear and full of questions. The districts Human Resource Manager, Leonard Miller, explained the situation from the curb.
Miller said that students are part of drills twice every year to prepare just for a situation like this.
The school remained locked down until police had given an all-clear, at which time students were asked to return to their home rooms, attendance was taken and then they were released to their parents or bus routes.
Police Commander Gary Eisenga praised the district for "handling the situation well by responding immediately to locking down the campus and communicating with the nearby elementary school. The district notified parents and utilized the lockdown procedures they have been working on to ensure the safety of the students."
Eisenga says, the police department is working collaboratively with the district to investigate the situation and will provide updates as information is known.
The school and district will meet with local law enforcement and the fire department to review actions to n an effort to continuously improve practices and procedures, according to the superintendent. Notify Principal immediately
Direct all students, staff and visitors into classrooms.
Report to your assigned classroom or nearest room as quickly as possible.
Teachers and designees will close and lock classroom doors and windows.
If absolutely necessary, students may report to an alternate shelter site.
Close drapes and stay away from windows, "duck and cover"
Teachers should take roll and assess the situation. If possible or necessary, use "injury documentation sheet" found in policy manual. YOU WILL BE CONTACTED. Principal will coordinate with alternate shelter site to complete roll if necessary.
Electricity will be left on. Intercoms, radios, e-mail and televisions may be used to forward information during the event.
Do not allow anyone to leave the classroom. Use emergency food, water, and toilet facilities if necessary.
Teacher are not to evacuate the rooms until principal issues authorization.