CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The student who brought a BB gun to Middle Creek High School sparking a Code Red lockdown Thursday morning now faces juvenile petition.
The lockdown began around 10 a.m. when school and law enforcement officials received information that a student had brought a gun to campus.
Cary Police Department said officers arrived at the campus within minutes and began investigating.
Initially, officers identified four students as possibly being involved. Those four students were taken to the front office, searched and questioned.
They did not have any weapons on them, but investigators were able to identify a fifth student who was also possibly involved.
Cary Police Department Public Information Officer Kenric Alexander said that student was seen trying to hide something in a sweatshirt as they were being removed from their classroom. Inside that sweatshirt was what police are calling an airsoft gun and what Middle Creek High School officials described as a BB gun.
That student has now received a juvenile petition for bringing a weapon on a school campus. Their identity is not being released due to them being under 18 years old.
Middle Creek High School released a statement at 11:30 a.m. describing what happened.
"A student reported to administration that they witnessed another student in possession of a firearm in a school bathroom...Law enforcement responded and identified and detained the students suspected of potentially having a firearm. One student was found in possession of a BB gun," the statement read in part.
Earlier in the morning, Cary Police Department said during a press conference that no weapon had been found. That initial release of information also didn't include any reports of multiple students being detained, searched and questioned.
During that press conference, Alexander said the situation did get more chaotic due to rumors swirling among students at the school.
"Naturally, other students in the school are going to start texting their friends and their parents and then that's going to spread further chaos and confusion, when you have parents responding here looking for answers, trying to get their kid out. But in a Code Red situation we can't release kids -- which is for the safety of everyone. So that's what transpired here," Alexander said.
"I work in Benson. I flew here," said Jose Sarbia, who rushed to pick his son up from school once he heard the news.
It was terrifying moments for parents who waited outside the school and frantically texted their children. His son, Jose Sarbia Jr. said he and other students knew there was a lockdown, but they didn't know why.
"No details. Nothing. Just Code Red. Immediately they said no drill then we started panicking," he said.
Tiffany Fulmore has a 17-year-old daughter at the school. She told ABC11 sending her daughter to school is a risk she's no longer willing to take.
"It just seems like you would put metal detectors in schools by now," she said. "She's a senior so I'm going to find out if she can stay home for the rest of the year. This causes PTSD."
According to UNC Chapel Hill Health Behavior expert Beth Moracco, repeated school lockdowns can be traumatic for children. She offered tips for parents.
"What parents can do is if they do have a firearm in the house, they can make sure its securely stored. locked and unloaded," she said.
Parents breathed a sigh of relief once they laid eyes on their children Thursday. They were thankful things didn't take a turn for the worse.
"I want her to live. I want her to get to college and she will because she's not coming back. She's not," said Fulmore.
The student who brought the gun to school will also be subject to disciplinary action from Wake County Public School System. Middle Creek High School's statement said that students who bring weapons to campus are subject to a 365 day suspension as well as potential criminal charges.
In accordance to Cary Police Department policy, an increase in officers will remain on campus today and again Friday.
During the investigation, nearby schools of West Lake Elementary School, West Lake Middle School and Middle Creek Elementary Schools were all placed on a Code Yellow lockdown as a precaution. Those lockdowns have all been lifted.
Middle Creek High School was taken off Code Red lockdown in favor of Code Yellow around 11:15 a.m. By noon the school had lifted the lockdown completely.
Threats on the rise
This latest lockdown comes as the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports it is tracking an increased number of violent threats aimed at schools across the country.
Last fiscal year, nearly 6,000 school-related threats were reported to the FBI nationwide -- a 60% increase from 2021, the bureau's El Paso office said Wednesday.
"The FBI works closely with law enforcement partners to identify the individuals who make these threats to ensure there is no threat to life," FBI spokesperson Jeanette Harper said in a statement to ABC News. "All tips received by the FBI and our partners are followed up on, and all threats are fully analyzed and investigated to determine credibility."
From last October through February, Harper said, the FBI received about 2,300 tips about school-related threats nationwide.
Often reported by students, parents, school administrators or local law enforcement, according to the FBI, school threats are defined as written or verbal threats to attack students, teachers or administrators at school or elsewhere. The threats are typically posted on social media.