By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 | 12:11 p.m.
UPDATED: Oct 11, 2017 | 3:21 p.m.
DINWIDDIE – Both Dinwiddie High School and nearby Dinwiddie Middle School were placed on lockdown after a report of a man seen walking through the high school with a gun came into Dinwiddie authorities Wednesday morning, prompting dozens of parents to gather near the schools to await word on when they can pick up their children as law enforcement searched the buildings.
According to Dinwiddie Sheriff D.T. Adams, a call was transferred from Petersburg’s 911 center to Dinwiddie Wednesday morning that said there was “a black male seen walking in the halls of the high school with a gun.”
Upon receiving the call, deputies with the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Department descended on Courthouse Road where both Dinwiddie High and Dinwiddie Middle schools are located and the schools were placed on immediate lockdown with Virginia State Police assisting in the sweep of both schools.
As of 2 p.m., the lockdown appears to have been lifted and parents were beginning to be allowed to pick up their children.
“At this time, we are searching each classroom with dogs and checking to see if we can find anything,” Adams said in an interview. “There have been no confirmed sightings and no one has been injured.”
Adams said as deputies investigate the sighting, they have tracked the phone that made the initial call to Petersburg’s 911 dispatchers enough to discover that it “was a deactivated phone” and that the call came from Petersburg because it came through their dispatch center.
“We are taking this very seriously and we are going to search every room of the high school and the middle school,” Adams continued.
Shortly after the call came in, Dinwiddie Schools sent out a series of automated calls to parents and guardians about the situation, which resulted in dozens of people gathering at nearby Dinwiddie Middle School as they awaited word on when they would be able to pick up their children from both schools, with Dinwiddie Schools superintendent Dr. Kari Weston and other members of the school division’s administration team and school board spending much of their time in the parking lot of Dinwiddie Middle speaking to parents and others assembled.
“The protocols have been followed and nothing has been found,” remarked Dinwiddie School Board member Barbara Pittman. “But, in this climate, you have to check. This is a big building so a search like this takes awhile. Nothing out of the normal has been found. The only thing out of the normal is that the children haven’t eaten today,” she said as students were confined to their classrooms for much of the day.
While parents outside the school awaited updates from school representatives, it was their own children using their cell phones to text and post to social media about what was going on inside the school. Cherisse Eldridge, parent of two daughters at Dinwiddie High School, said she heard about the lockdown from her children first before she got the automated call from school officials and she shared the emotions her children were feeling during the lockdown.
“They were very emotional about not knowing what’s going on,” she shared. “They are also pretty hungry and they have to use the restroom.”
As law enforcement searched the halls of the schools, Dr. Weston and Dinwiddie School Board member Pittman praised local and state police for their response.
“They were here in minutes and Virginia State Police have been wonderful with keeping the superintendent informed and we all have been communicating back and forth with the two assistant principals at the high school,” she said. “We have been pleased with the response.”
Speaking to the subject of disseminating information to parents, Pittman said the dozens of parents that made their way to the middle school parking lot were been patient and understanding as the process to search the expansive Dinwiddie High School facility continued.
“Once we were able to tell the parents there was no imminent danger to students, they calmed down,” she said. “Of course, they’re your children so you fear the worst, especially in today’s news, so the fact that we were able to get updates from inside and out to say there hasn’t been anything found and that there is not an intruder, it certainly relieved their mind.”
Just before 2 p.m., Dr. Weston told parents of Dinwiddie HS students who wish to pick up their kids they could do so at DHS’ auxiliary gym beginning at 2pm., asking parents and guardians bring identification or other items that would bring for dismissing their children on any normal day. Dinwiddie Middle School parents were directed to come to the middle school and where they were met by school officials on site in order to be allowed to meet their children for dismissal.
The schools would release at its normal time Wednesday afternoon following normal procedure with buses transporting students home.
The Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Department plans to send out additional information regarding Wednesday’s lockdown at a later time, Sheriff Adams confirmed to The Dinwiddie Monitor.
Stay with The Dinwiddie Monitor for the latest information on this developing story.