Parents panic after Fayetteville schools put on lockdown after 911 call

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Friday, October 7, 2022
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As rumors of a shooter swirled around, parents had conflicting ideas as to why 71st High School and 71st Classical Middle school were sent into lockdown. In any case, parents tell ABC11 they weren't taking any chances.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fayetteville students and parents were left shaken after a middle and high school were put into a code red lockdown on Friday. This happened after there was a report of a suspicious person at 71st High School.

However, law enforcement found it was just a staff member and that there wasn't a threat. Still, parents were rattled by rumors of there being a gunman on campus, and came out to pick up their children in droves.

As rumors of a shooter swirled around, parents had conflicting ideas as to why 71st High School and 71st Classical Middle school were sent into lockdown. In any case, parents tell ABC11 they weren't taking any chances.

"I'm just here because my daughter has really bad anxiety attacks. So I was already on my way up there," said one parent at 71st High School.

"With my grandson calling and telling he's not comfortable staying here, I knew I had to come and pick him up," said Jackie Harvey, another parent at 71st High School.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Department says a 71st High School student reported there was a suspicious person on campus to a teacher at around 9 AM. That triggered the lockdown--but investigators found that the person was actually a school employee and that the school was safe.

In a statement, the sheriff's department said in part:

"There was never a legitimate threat at 71st High School, nor were shots fired. All threats of violence, especially at a school, are taken very seriously and are investigated thoroughly and expeditiously for everyone's safety."

Administrators ended the lockdown and resumed the school day. Still, the sheriff's department says many students contacted their parents during the lockdown and spread false information about there being a shooter at the school. Some parents ABC11 spoke with expressed their frustration that they weren't alerted of the situation sooner, saying they weren't notified about the lockdown until it was over.

"I'm just very, very concerned if it escalated or even was a huge, huge problem, I just wanted to know so I can react," said Monique Soto, a 71st High School parent.

However, Cumberland County Schools says staff and administrators responded appropriately to the situation. While multiple alerts were sent out, the department says it recognize there can be delays with various communication carriers.

"We certainly understand the concerns from our families, and because of the day in which we live we know that school safety is very important," said Associate Superintendent Dr. Lindsay Whitley. "And so we just we're thankful for our parents and our families, and we're thankful for their understanding."

Classes at 71st High School and 71st Classical Middle School will continue their normal schedule on Monday.

Cumberland County Schools released this statement about the incident, "This morning, Seventy-First High School went into a Code Red lockdown based on a report that an unknown individual was on campus. School officials immediately contacted law enforcement to investigate. Seventy-First Classical Middle School was also placed on lockdown due to its proximity to Seventy-First High. After their investigation, we learned that it was a false alarm, and the individual who was reported as "unknown" was actually a staff member at the school. While there were rumors of an active shooter and/or weapons on campus this morning, the investigation determined the information was false.

We are thankful that our lockdown plan worked exactly as it should and that all students and staff are safe. We take all threats seriously. We are grateful to our school officials who took the appropriate actions, and we are thankful for our law enforcement partners who responded quickly."