Police have responded to three school threats in as many days in Lake County schools — two coming in the same day.
In two cases, calls were made to school officials alerting them to potential danger with no detectable threat found upon officers' response, according to authorities and school officials. However, in a third instance, a gun was found on school property after a student reported that a classmate may have a weapon.
Here's what we know about police response in three separate Northwest Indiana schools this week just days after students returned to class from summer break.
Handgun retrieved from student at Banneker elementary
Police confiscated a revolver from a 9-year-old student at Banneker Elementary at Marquette near the end of the school day Wednesday, Gary Cmdr. Jack Hamady said.
School officials said they were first alerted of a possible threat around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday when a student reported a classmate may have brought a weapon to school.
The elementary was immediately placed on lockdown and police were contacted to conduct a search of the school, according to a Gary Community School Corp. news release.
A K-9 unit was called out to the scene and responding officers ultimately found the revolver and a case used to transfer the weapon in a student’s desk, Hamady said.
The school lockdown lifted shortly before students were released at their regular 2:55 p.m. dismissal time.
“Our main concern is the safety of our children and that all of our buildings are safe,” Gary Emergency Manager Peter Morikis said in a statement Wednesday. “I commend the students for speaking up and alerting staff right away. This allowed our team to act quickly and diffuse the situation.”
The revolver was taken into Gary police custody, Hamady said, and Lake County’s Juvenile Division and Child Protective Services were contacted to further investigate how the 9-year-old came into possession of the weapon.
Hamady said it is unlikely that prosecutors will seek criminal charges for the student.
“The most important thing is ‘see something, say something,’” Hamady said. “And, parents need to really be conscious of where their weapons are in their home.”
Anonymous tips can be submitted to the Gary Community School Corp. by calling 219-318-2351.
Anonymous tip called in to Gary Lighthouse school
Gary Lighthouse College Prep Academy placed its students and staff on a soft lockdown Friday morning after someone called with an anonymous tip, school officials said.
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The call around 7:30 a.m. was made by a parent who believed a student had a gun, Hamady said.
An officer who regularly floats among Gary schools was already on site at the Clark Road charter academy when police were notified of the tip, Hamady said.
That officer responded, Hamady said, and discovered the tip was unfounded.
The lockout was lifted before students’ third period and the school day resumed as usual, Lighthouse Academies Regional Director Jessica Beasley said.
Parents were immediately notified of the lockdown via robocall, Beasley said, and the school planned to send letters home to parents Friday evening.
Future tips and safety concerns can be reported by directly calling the school, Beasley said. The Gary Lighthouse College Prep Academy’s main phone number is 219-977-9583.
Bomb threat forces 2-hour lockdown in Griffith
Lockdown procedures were initiated at Griffith Middle/High School on Friday morning as authorities worked to resolve a threat of a bomb called in to school officials.
Personnel working at the middle/high school received a call at 11:35 a.m. Friday, suggesting a bomb was located somewhere within the school, according to a joint statement from the Griffith Police Department and Griffith Public Schools.
Information regarding the call was immediately shared with school administrators and Griffith Police school resource officers who initiated a lockdown of the school.
Parents received text and email notification of the lockdown around noon Friday, sharing details that all students were safe and that entry and exit from the school would not be allowed. Some students were reportedly allowed to remain in their classrooms, while others were taken to the school fieldhouse as police searched suspected areas of the school.
Nearby Beiriger Elementary School kept students indoors for recess as a security precaution, according to parents' notifications from the school.
Additional officers from the Griffith and Highland police departments, as well as dog handlers and canines from the Dyer and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District police departments, assisted in searching both in and around the school. Griffith officials lifted the school lockdown at 2:10 p.m., after authorities found no threat at the middle/high school, according to the statement.
Students returned to class and were dismissed at their usual time Friday following the lockdown.
The Griffith Police Department is still investigating the source of the threat and is asking that anyone with information call 219-924-7503. Anonymous tips can be reported to Griffith police by calling 219-922-3085.