BB gun recovered after D-E school lockdown
EYOTA — A pistol-style BB gun was recovered from the home of a Dover-Eyota High School student Wednesday, authorities said today, but no arrests have been made — yet.
Members of law enforcement were called to the school about 10:40 a.m. after school officials realized a report of a student with a gun at school on Tuesday was confirmed by a second report Wednesday morning.
There are multiple suspects, said Capt. Scott Behrns of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office, but it's believed only one weapon is involved. No verbal threats appear to have been made, but "we're still investigating the possibility of bullying," among other reports.
"I'm fairly confident charges will be filed," he said of the suspects.
The weapon was seen both inside the school and off the property between Tuesday and Wednesday, Behrns said. The handgun-style BB gun was recovered "with the complete cooperation of the parent" of a suspect, he said.
Before "connecting the dots," the high school implemented a lockdown drill Wednesday morning, D-E Superintendent Michael Carolan said today. The drill was extended with an announcement to students, he said, "then evolved into an actual lockdown" about 11:30 a.m.
Parents, he acknowledged, weren't notified of the lockdown until early afternoon, saying he's received "fair, reasonable feedback that they should've known something sooner."
Though the situation was a fluid one, "we did the best we could at that moment, but we realize (now) we should've had a communication person," Carolan said. "I was (handling) the communication, but I was also caught up in the process" of dealing with student safety, law enforcement and transportation for other students in the district.
There was a report late Tuesday afternoon of a student possibly in possession of a gun, he said; school officials investigated and a search found no evidence to support the claim.
When another report of a weapon sighting came in Wednesday morning, "we became concerned about a possible connection between the two reports," Carolan said. That's when the lockdown drill was called, along with law enforcement.
When deputies arrived, it was unknown if the firearm was inside the school, Behrns said. All investigators with the county were sent to Eyota, where they interviewed several students and members of staff.
Though the students allegedly involved were "secured," the school was advised by law enforcement to maintain the internal lockdown, Carolan said, as the investigation continued.
"We were unable to serve lunch," he said, and while food was delivered to many classrooms, not everyone was able to eat.
The lockdown was lifted at the end of the school day, once law enforcement determined there was no gun in the building. After-school and evening activities continued as planned.
Carolan reiterated the lack of communication "is on me," but said even parents dissatisfied with the school's response "recognize that safety was the most important factor."
He called the day "unhappy and stressful" for everyone involved, but said "our actions were necessary to insure the safety of all our students and staff."
By the time the lockdown ended about 3:10 p.m., "we knew we needed to get those kids out," he said.