Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 25, 2013

Southard 'lockout' ends without incident

Staff reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — George Southard Elementary School was put into a state of "lockout" for about an hour Friday afternoon after two students said they saw an armed man outside the school.

The lockout ended after New York State Police officers searched the area and did not find anyone or anything suspicious.

According to Principal Christopher C. Arnold, police were called around 1:30 p.m. after two students playing on the playground reported seeing a man on a walking path behind the playground, "darting in and out of the bushes," and appearing to have a gun. The students were outside for recess.

Police were called and the school building was immediately put into lockout mode, meaning all students and staff were brought inside and all outside doors were secured. Meanwhile, several state troopers checked the grounds in search of anyone matching the descriptions given by the students. A Niagara County Sheriff's patrol officer was on standby.

Students and staff members all were aware of the lockout measure but the school day went on in "pretty normal" fashion, Arnold said.

Lockout mode is ordered as a "precautionary measure" when there is a perceived threat to safety or an incident is occurring outside the building, Arnold said.

The reporting students' "stories were a little sketchy in terms of details, but we didn't want to take any chances," he said. "Safety is always our number one priority."