Written by Esther Seawell, Kelly Martinek, and Kendall Hitch
Only minutes into third hour, Seaholm students were sent into lockdown mode for the second time in three weeks.
On April 8th, around 10:15am, Seaholm went into lockdown after police told administrators that they received an emergency call that reported someone carrying a firearm in the building.
According to Principal Dee Lancaster, the police arrived at 10:15 and informed her that the school needed to go into lockdown. Immediately after, the police began to search the school.
“They go in pairs hallway by hallway, check doors…the entire building, all the way down into Lincoln Street,” Lancaster said. “A lot of classrooms had their doors rattled where they tried to open them because they were looking for someone.”
When the Highlander asked if any people were searched by the police, she declined to comment based on the fact that it was an ongoing investigation.
The Tuesday following the lockdown, the Highlander filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, in attempt to obtain the police report. That request was denied by the Birmingham Police Department, stating it was an “active open investigation.” The Highlander made multiple attempts to reach Birmingham Police Commander Terry Keirnan for comment on the investigation. These calls were not returned by press time.
According to Lancaster, the lockdown lasted about 30 minutes.
After the lockdown, the next step was investigating the call to police.
“The police have checked some potential leads and we haven’t had a lot of luck with that,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said this call has been particularly hard to track, due to the way it was received by the police station.
“I can tell you what has made this more difficult is that it didn’t come in on their 911 line,” Lancaster said. “It came in on their administrative line and the number that the person who called it in gave was not an accurate telephone number or accurate name.”
The manner in which the lockdown was conducted left some students questioning the effectiveness of lockdown procedures.
“I do not feel safe. They happen way too often,” sophomore Avery Campbell said. “I don’t know what is going on and I assume the worst case scenario every time.”
Some students do not treat the lockdown as a serious threat.
“I try to take the lockdowns seriously but they have become a common occurrence,” sophomore Alex Krivan said. “I think everyone has begun to think of them as a joke.”
“The lockdowns are not accurate at all,” freshman Kevin Muir said. “People are talking and it’s just a mess.”
Other students realized that the administration was handling the situation as best as they could.
“I think [the administration] is doing a pretty good job,” junior Sydney Hessen said. “I mean there’s not much you can do.”
Lancaster said that, although there has not been a lockdown drill during lunch in the past, procedures were carried out exactly as they were intended.
“[The procedure] is exactly what we did, which is to get them into any empty classroom that we possibly can at that point in time,” Lancaster said. “We had never drilled that before because that is one of those tough ones.”
According to Lancaster, the true lockdown procedure for upperclassmen out to lunch is “basically what we did.”
“Students outside of the building should just stay out. I’m always going to err on the side of being cautious,” Lancaster said.
According to attendance secretary Susan Pomroy, some students took direction from the police and went home, remaining there for the rest of the day.
“We’re not going to penalize students for doing what the police officers told them to do,” Pomroy said.
According to Pomroy, there were also a limited number of parents who decided to take their child out of school the remainder of the day after the lockdown had finished.
Lancaster said it’s important to practice drills as if they were real lockdowns. Everyone, from students to security guards to administrators, must follow the scripted procedures during fire, tornado and lockdown drills.
Specifically, Lancaster said that the job of the security guards is to alert the administration of a suspicious presence and then, because they are unarmed, hide.
“Safety procedures were followed very well by students and staff,” Birmingham Police Chief Terry Kiernan told the Oakland Press in a Monday April 8 article.