COVENTRY — Coventry High School went into lockdown Monday, following multiple reports that someone on campus may have had a gun.
A search of students and the building turned up no weapons, Frederick Heise, chief of the Coventry Police Department, said during a news conference Monday evening.
Students were passing between classes at around 11:45 a.m. when someone was overheard saying “he has a gun,” Coventry Public Schools Asst. Supt. Don Cowart said.
“That was first reported by a teacher, and then by a student and then another class of students,” Cowart said.
Students were immediately put on a pass restriction, kept with their teachers inside of their classrooms. Administrators investigated, Cowart said, and around noon decided to go into a full lockdown.
It was at that point that Coventry police arrived on scene, he added. The Rhode Island State Police as well as police from Warwick, Scituate, West Greenwich and Cranston assisted.
Once on scene, police set up a unified command with Coventry firefighters and school administrators.
Unable to identify the person who had made the comment, Heise said, police began searching students to see if anyone had a gun.
“All the students were searched, the classrooms were searched and belongings were searched,” said Heise, who added that students were given pat-downs and their bags were searched. “We were unable to locate anything, there were no weapons found.”
Teachers were searched too, Cowart said. Lockers were not searched, but dogs trained to sniff out firearms didn’t detect any weapons.
“I would say, as a parent, confidently to other parents that they can send their kids in tomorrow confident the schools have been thoroughly checked,” Capt. Matthew Blair of the Coventry Police Department said.
After being searched, students were loaded onto buses and brought either home or to Ocean State Job Lot where families had been told to wait. Others who had driven to school were able to drive themselves home.
“Part of the unified command is that we make decisions together,” Cowart said. “So we had to make decisions about how we secure the students who have been searched, and then decisions about how we dismiss those students so that once the students have gone through that search process, we can get them off campus.”
There are nearly 1,500 students at Coventry High School. The last student was cleared out of the building by 4 p.m., Cowart said, and the Job Lot parking lot was clear by 4:30 p.m.
“So every student is home safe,” Cowart said, “which is, obviously, our priority. From our opinion, that’s a success.”
Police will be at the school today, Heise said, and the investigation is ongoing.