Lockdown incident raises concerns about safety

October 6th’s false active shooter left many confused and some traumatized


Andrew Kerley

Students were ushered away from the building on the day of the incident. Many police showed up to help guide people on where to go.

“Nothing can prepare you for this.” The words of Principal Mr. Antonio Hall sounded through the school on Thursday, October 7,  as teachers put on the live community session hosted by Mr.Hall to talk about the previous day. 

On October 6, before school officially began, the front office received an anonymous call claiming there was a shooter inside the building. Lockdown procedures were immediately initiated and police were called while administrators did what was possible to ensure safety in the unclear situation. Despite numerous safety drills hammering into students and faculty exactly what to do in situations like these, many are at a loss when it actually comes time to put them into use. 

It was just prior to 8:00 a.m. when the school received the call; within ten minutes,  anyone inside the building went into lockdown. Outside of the building, students arriving at school were sent away, which led to increased confusion because many did not know the exact reason of why they could not enter the building, or where exactly to go.

“There was just one teacher and one substitute handling a crowd of ~1,000 students as we marched to the park,” Aaron, a student at the school, told an ARLnow reporter. “After that, students began to disperse, walking/running to the subway, the library, the baseball field, etc. Some students began crying, others were scared, some were glad they could skip school.”

Despite this fear and confusion, most students were able to remain calm as they made their way home, some deciding to utilize the “free day” to spend with friends or family. 

However, a portion of the student and faculty body had a quite different experience. Many teachers arrive at the building between 6:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. every day, and some students  arrive early to school for extra help, breakfast or a zero period class. All of these school community members were put under lockdown and forced to stay there for several hours while the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) conducted an investigation in the building. This was a  tumultuous experience for many, and some feared for their lives, at least for the couple hours before finding out there was not an actual shooter.

It was just after 10 a.m. when the ACPD declared the grounds cleared with no real threat to the students. Despite being given the all-clear only a couple hours after the call, some students were not released from lockdown until long after because the police teams were required to release individuals room by room, which took time. 

“My students were incredible, and they handled the experience so well,” an anonymous teacher at our school said. “It concerned me that ACPD tweeted out an ‘all clear’ just before 10 a.m., stating that there was ‘no evidence of a shooting located and…no ongoing threat to public safety,’ but we remained in lockdown until around noon while they finished sweeping/evacuating the building. This was confusing for those of us still in lockdown.”

Eventually all were released, many just relieved to be unharmed. The police did a thorough sweep of the grounds and determined that it is unlikely that there was ever actually a shooter on campus, though it is still being investigated. The identity of the caller is also something ACPD is still looking into. 


The incident has left some wondering about possible changes this may lead to in relation to safety measures at the school.So far, the school has not released information about possible policy changes other than the “additional security” added the day after the lockdown.

“I feel that there is a greater understanding of what this experience can actually look like from the student perspective, and it’s an opportunity to evaluate our protocols and consider additional potential situations and how to best handle them to meet the needs and safety of our community,” the anonymous teacher said.