May 15, 2013 | Val. 25 Edition 20

Loaded hand gun found at Gilson Middle School

Officials put all Valdez schools on lockdown after student finds weapon

Valdez police will be spending a night searching all three Valdez schools tonight after a loaded hand gun was found in a student bathroom at Gilson Middle School earlier this afternoon.

Tony Gorman photo
Police look on as Principal Rod Morrison talked to students shortly after a lockdown ended. All district schools were put on a lockdown status after a loaded handgun was found inside Gilson Middle School.

As a precaution, all three district schools were put on lockdown at approximately 2 p.m. Students were allowed to leave all three schools at around 3 p.m.

“We sent officers to all the schools just to make sure everyone was safe,” Comer said.

Bill Comer, Valdez police chief, Rod Morrison, principal of Gilson Middle School, and Jacob Jensen, district superintendent, made a statement to Valdez press outside the school shortly before 5 p.m.

Morrison read a district press release stating: “At approximately 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, a loaded firearm was found at Gilson Middle School. The middle school immediately initiated lock down protocol. Valdez High School and Hermon Hutchens Elementary School also initiated lock down protocol right away. The Valdez Police Dept. was notified immediately. Students were safe at all times. All students were dismissed by classrooms and safely accompanied out of the building. Students were released from school at the normal time; buses were delayed about 15 minutes. As a precautionary measure, all Valdez City School District schools will be searched by Valdez police. School is expected to resume at normal time tomorrow.”

Neither Comer nor district officials would verify or deny reports posted by students on social media that say the weapon was a loaded 9mm and was taped to the back of a toilet in a student restroom.

“We’re going to be pretty non specific on the type of firearm,” Comer said in the interview.

Two press releases issued by the district during the lockdown did not state why the school was on lockdown or why

“No signs of this happening,” Morrison said, when asked if there were any indications an incident of this nature was in the works.

Comer said there was no reason to believe students or specific students or staff were targeted for violence at this point.

“There is always going to be a lot of speculation,” Comer said. “We have to make sure what we put out is correct information.”

Students were not told why the schools were on lockdown during the incident.

“Number one was students were safe, and they were,” Morrison said.

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