JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Westside High School was placed on lockdown Friday morning after a report of a “potentially dangerous situation with an alleged firearm on campus,” a Duval County Public Schools spokesperson said.
The spokesperson told News4JAX an anonymous tip was received that someone dressed in black with a gun was under the bleachers at the football field.
In response, the school used its standard procedure and went on a Code Red lockdown, which is when NO ONE is allowed inside or out of the building.
“Normal procedure. Everyone in the area was checked, searched, no firearm was found,” DCPS spokesperson Tracy Pierce said.
When police arrived to investigate, they did not find a weapon.
The school remained on Code Yellow for the rest of the day, which meant there was limited and controlled movement in the building.
The district said families were notified, and parents were allowed to check their children out early if they wanted.
The scare came just days after a deadly mass shooting at a Michigan high school.
While there wasn’t a gun found on Westside High’s campus on Friday, the situation frightened a lot of parents, and many came to retrieve their students. A line stretched out the door once the Code Red lockdown was relaxed.
Many of the parents, including Iericha James, got text messages from their students that left them in a panic, thinking about the recent events in Michigan.
“He said, ‘Mom, I don’t know what’s going on. Please pray for me.’ And I said, ‘Is this now?’ and he said ‘Yes, it’s today,’ and I said ‘I’m on my way,’” James said.
James said she rushed to the school to pick up her son, who is a sophomore. She said she not only picked up her Westside High student, but she decided to pull her other students out of their schools as well as a precaution.
“It’s scary. I still have the shakes. I still feel nauseous,” James said. “Even just seeing him, I’m still scared, trying to hold it together. My mom is over there crying. It’s an awful feeling.”
Gweniece Gibbs got a text from her freshman son, saying “somebody has a gun on campus.” She said she was petrified.
“I sent him a prayer. And I told him to, you know, to pray, and that was about it at the time, because I didn’t know what else to do,” Gibbs said.
Some parents said it concerns them that they heard from their students before they received any communication from the school. Pierce said there’s a reason for that.
“The first priority of the staff and the principal and the leadership in the building is the safety and security of students,” Pierce said. “They’re going to make sure that those people in the building are safe and secure before we get to communication.”
Pierce said that’s what student text messages will often reach parents earlier than school or district notice of an emergency situation on campus.
Several parents said they were not notified by the district of the lockdown. Pierce said that is likely because the parents’ contact information is not updated with the school.
He said if you want to make sure you WON’T miss critical information like this, get in touch with your child’s specific school to make sure they have the correct, updated info on file.