A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the high school Jan. 25 for carrying a concealed, unloaded, inoperable pistol, but the incident did not precipitate a lockdown.
The matter was handled quietly by administrators and the Shaker Heights Police. No lockdown was called, unlike three years ago, when the school received a call claiming that two armed people had entered the building.
In an email sent to all high school staff, Principal Michael Griffith wrote, “We learned on the morning of January 25 that a student reportedly had a weapon in school the previous day. The young man had just returned to the High School on the 24th after an extended period elsewhere. Police were notified immediately.
“The young man was apprehended when he entered the High School after the start of the school day on the 25th. The weapon was located during a search of the young man’s possessions. The young man was arrested and incarcerated. To our knowledge, no one was harmed or threatened with harm.”
The gun threat is the first since the March 2009 lockdown of the school, and although the two situations seem similar, the response was very different.
On March 18, 2009, the school was locked down after a caller reported two armed individuals entering the high school. On the morning of Jan. 25, 2012, it was discovered that a young man had entered the school with a weapon the previous day, and, upon search that morning, the young man was found with the gun.
A few students expressed their fear at the administration’s decision not to call a lockdown in the more recent threat. “It’s a judgment call, but seeing the facts, it’s always smart to play it better safe than sorry,” sophomore Nick Adamson said. “It’s a little scary that they didn’t lock down the school.”
Griffith was not available for comment.
Upon searching the building during the 2009 lockdown, police found neither weapons nor armed individuals. The lockdown lasted from about 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the remainder of the school day was cancelled. Although police found a weapon Jan. 25, no lockdown preceded the discovery.
While the intent of the recent threat is unclear, some students explained their disappointment in their peers. “It’s a little embarrassing that we need so many security guards in our school,” said sophomore Zach Hofstetter. “We should just be able to get by on the honor system.”
However, the incident is now a judicial matter. Griffith’s email stated, “This is in the hands of the police and courts. We are seeking prosecution to the fullest extent possible, and we are taking every action possible to ensure that he does not ever return to Shaker.”
Senior Matt Reesing approved of the subtle approach.“I think they handled it incredibly well,” he said. “I respect all of them for their time and effort protecting us, no matter how small the threat is.”
A version of this article appeared in print on 28 February 2012, on page 4 of The Shakerite.