School lockdown cleared after ‘suspicious person’ reported near Lake Shore Middle

Dozens of parents opt to pick up their children for the day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The campus at Lake Shore Middle School was on a temporary Code Red lockdown Thursday morning after a bus driver reported seeing a suspicious person with a weapon approach the school.

The report led to a full-scale response from both Duval County School Police and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and a lot of scared families.

Duval County School Police Chief Greg Burton said that the robust response is standard for any reported threats to a school campus and that each new incident is always taken seriously.

“Along with our other law enforcement partners, we had this response. We train with JSO and the beaches police all the time to ensure that when these incidents may occur, that we respond accordingly,” he said.

After receiving reports of the threat, the campus was placed on heightened security status and students who were on school buses at the time were kept there while the investigation was being conducted classroom by classroom.

“They said they’ve been on the bus since 7:38 o’clock this morning. They hadn’t been able to get off the bus, so they’ve been stuck on the bus since this morning,” said Loretta Fuller, an aunt of a Lake Shore Middle student.

Burton said, “They were held on the bus because, once we go into Code Red, there’s to be no movement on campus.”

Eventually, Burton said, his officers found nothing, and the Code Red threat was downgraded to a Code Yellow status — still heightened security, but allowing free movement between classrooms — for the remainder of the day.

Parents received notice of the lockdown, and after the investigation was completed, were allowed to pick up their students for the day. Dozens of families did pull their children from school for the remainder of the day. Even though this particular investigation found nothing, for parents, having their children be in any potential danger is a terrifying notion, regardless of the outcome.

“She was panicked, and she was, I mean, you know, scared. I mean, I’m, like, worried,” said Donna Nisbet, a grandparent of a Lake Shore Middle School student. “I mean, whether it’s nothing or not, it’s a scare, you know, especially when you got all these cops everywhere.”

A mother of a Lake Shore Middle student also told News4JAX, “It was scary. I didn’t know what was going on. Like, I’m just thinking of my baby’s safety, my niece’s and my nephew’s safety, well, really all the kids’ safety. It’s just scary. It is.”

As a reminder, if you’re a parent or guardian who would want to pick up your students after an incident like this — or a real emergency — you must have your information filed with the school office.

If your name isn’t on the list of approved guardians to pick up that student, they will not be released to you, so it’s a good idea to have the information on file with the school if you haven’t done so already.

Duval County School Police and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office respond to a suspicious person reported at Lake Shore Middle School on Dec. 1, 2022. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Below are the messages that were sent Thursday to families of Lake Shore Middle students:

First communication

“Good Morning Lake Shore Middle families,

“This is Duval County Public Schools calling to notify you that Lake Shore Middle is currently on a Code Red lockdown due to reports of a possible suspicious individual entering the campus. Law enforcement is on scene to investigate these reports. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more information. As a reminder, during a Code Red, no one is allowed in or off the campus for the safety of students and staff. Again, no one is allowed in or off campus for the safety of students and staff. We will contact you shortly with an update.”

Follow-up communication

“Hello Lakeshore Middle Families, this is Duval County Public Schools calling with an update to the situation at your school. All students and staff are safe. Again, all students and staff are safe, and the code red has been reduced to a code yellow.

“Police have thoroughly searched the campus and have concluded that there is no current threat to the school. However, the school will remain on code yellow for the remainder of the day and police will continue to monitor the campus.

“Because of the lockdown, some students were held on buses until the police determined that the campus was safe. Those students are now being cleared to enter the building and go to class.

“The original lockdown was called as a result of a report of a suspicious person who may have been armed and who may have walked onto campus. Our school will always take the steps necessary to ensure student and staff safety, which is why we put the school on code red as a result of this report. Again, this report was not substantiated and there is no current threat to the school.

“We are grateful for the work of police to ensure that our campus is safe. And we appreciate your patience as we take these security measures to keep students and staff safe.”

About the Author:

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.