May 15, 2013 | Val. 25 Edition 20

Loaded hand gun found at GMS, student referred to juvenile intake

UPDATED Officials put all Valdez schools on lockdown after student finds weapon

Late last night, Valdez police reported that a student who brought a loaded firearm to Gilson Middle School Tuesday has been identified and interviewed.

Tony Gorman photo
School officials, including at least one board member, were on hand at Gilson Middle School Tuesday afternoon when the lockdown ended and students were allowed to go home.

All three schools in Valdez were put on a lockdown status around 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon after a loaded handgun was found in a student bathroom at Gilson Middle School. 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,” Bill Comer, Valdez police chief, said.

“Information and investigation indicates that the student acted alone. Charges will be referred to the Juvenile Probation Officer at the conclusion of the investigation,” a press release issued by Sheri Pierce, the city’s public information officer, said. “Valdez Police will be present at school locations tomorrow morning to reassure parents that there is no continued threat to student safety.”

Comer, Rod Morrison, principal of Gilson Middle School, and Jacob Jensen, district superintendent, made a statement to Valdez press outside the school Tuesday, 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... 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 …schools will be searched by…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.

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.

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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