A student at Sands Secondary was arrested last week after school officials received a tip about a student allegedly having a gun, putting the school into a brief lockdown.
Accoding to a letter sent to parents about the incident by Sands principal Aaron Akune, school officials received an anonymous tip at about 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 15 alleging a student at the school was in possession of a handgun.
In a release to media, Delta Police said a school liaison officer was contacted at 10:07 a.m. by staff at Sands. Police were at the school a minute later, where officers quickly located the student and took him into custody. Police confirm that the student was in possession of a airsoft pistol.
“The situation involved a dispute between students. The student in question apparently felt threatened and decided to carry the airsoft pistol as a deterrent,” Delta Police public affairs coordinator Cris Leykauf said in a press release. “Though this was an unfortunate decision, our officers were pleased the incident was resolved quickly and safely.”
The school was placed into a “code yellow” while police investigated the matter, and returned to normal operations by 10:45 a.m.
In a code yellow, school administrators contact police and lock all exterior doors while teachers secure windows, draw the blinds and take attendance. Students are largely kept in class, but are still permitted to leave for reasons such as to use the restroom. The procedure allows the school to continue with a normal school day, but forbids outside activity. Unauthorized personnel are not permitted to enter the building.
By contrast, a “code red” is a full-fledged lockdown, meaning students and staff shelter in place. It is used “when there is an immediate and imminent threat to the school building population,”according to the Delta School District’s emergency response manual.
“The code yellow procedure worked very smoothly, and our thanks to teachers, students and the administration for their cooperation. Our police officers train regularly for these situations with schools,” Leykauf said.
In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., parents and area residents were quick to ask on social media why school officials didn’t initiate a full code red lockdown.
Delta School District assistant superintendent Brad Bauman explained the decision to go to code yellow was based on the nature of the information, how it was received and other relevant context he was not at liberty to divulge due to confidentiality issues.
Bauman did stress, however, that school officials worked closely with Delta Police to determine the appropriate course of action.
“The initial information as it was presented did not indicate the need to escalate immediately to a code red. The initial information was investigated and quickly the situation was resolved,” Bauman said. “There were many contextual factors that contributed to the decision to go code yellow, and, based on this, the information suggested that there was no immediate threat.”
Bauman said it’s understandable why people would assume the worst given recent events.
“We’re in the wake of a horrific incident down in Florida, and anytime we get into these what we call critical periods, everything’s heightened and often what can happen is that very little bits of information that are worrisome can grow into these huge situations where people are worried for their safety,” Bauman said.
“To the person that’s just hearing, ‘Oh my gosh, there was a weapon in school,’ people will fill in the blanks with what’s the intent of the student having that there, and it can just escalate like crazy. So we have to be very careful about how we manage that information, and I think you can appreciate the challenge we have with getting good information out there not only to you folks in the media, [but] to DPD communications [and] to others.
“Kids are typically texting and putting speculative information out there, often in advance of any opportunity we have to get accurate information out there. So we’re always challenged with that.”
Bauman said the incident was handled quickly, calmly and without incident, thanks to the procedures the district has in place and its close working relationship with the Delta Police Department.
“We do have processes that we do work collaboratively with the police when any sort of information comes to us that would suggest any potential violence or anyone that would be carrying a weapon,” Bauman said, adding the job’s not done once the code yellow has been lifted.
“It’s not as simple as we go into code yellow, find the kid and we’re done. We’re trying to find out what’s going on for that student, we’re trying to find out what are the risk-reducing interventions, so if there is a level of risk … we mitigate that through intervention,” Bauman said.
“So it’s not just a, ‘Oh, we’ve dealt with it and that’s that.’ This is a kid,” he continued. “We’re not corrections, we’re not these other things. We’re dealing students in the school who are going through some sort of emotional pain or some sort of peer dynamic that’s causing them to do certain things. And in this case the student felt there was some need for him to do that.”
The matter remains under investigation.