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UPDATE: Tacoma schools locked down as police investigate threat

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Jan. 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm with 25 Comments »
January 4, 2010 3:45 pm

Tacoma police are investigating a report of a middle school student seen with a gun on the way to school this morning.

The investigation has prompted a modified lockdown at several Tacoma schools, police spokesman Mark Fulghum said.

No injuries have been reported, and the student seen with the weapon has been detained.

The activity began this morning when a Stewart Middle School student was seen with a gun in a backpack, Fulghum said. Officers responded to the school, located the student and interviewed him.

The officers found no gun on the student. The student told officers he had a gun but dumped it on the way to school. He also said he had the weapon because of a possible gang-related issue, Fulghum said.

“We don’t know how credible (that information) is,” he said.

UPDATE: All Tacoma schools – elementary up to high schools – are in the modified lockdown, according to schools spokesman Dan Voelpel. The move is a precautionary measure.

During a modified lockdown, students are allowed go about their normal activities. The front doors are locked.

Voelpel reports this is the first time the district has done a district-wide lockdown.

UPDATE No. 2: Here’s the e-mail sent out to parents of Tacoma schools students:

Good afternoon,This is the Tacoma Public Schools calling with an important message. All Tacoma schools have gone into a modified lockdown as a safety precaution at the recommendation of the Tacoma Police Department because of a possible threat of violence. A modified lockdown is where all entrances are locked and student activity inside the school can proceed as normal. A student from Stewart Middle School informed staff members that a possible threat of violence could occur sometime today. The Tacoma Police Department was immediately notified and is questioning a person of interest at this time.The safety and security of our students, staff and community members is always our primary concern. Please be assured that we will continue to do everything possible to maintain a safe and orderly school environment.  If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Public Information Office at 253.571.1015. Thank you.
To listen to the above message, you will need audio software and speakers on your computer.

UPDATE No. 3: Police lifted a modified lockdown at all but one Tacoma School District campus at about 12:45 p.m, today after they determined the incident that prompted the action was an “isolated threat,” the school district reported.

The modified lockdown, however, remained in effect at Stewart Middle School, 5010 Pacific Ave., and all after-school activities there are canceled.

The news was given to Tacoma School District parents and community members over the system’s automated calling system.

Leave a comment Comments → 25
  1. frankiethomas says:

    Thank you! Curious as to why they’d lock it down all the way to Stadium.

  2. thepettysbc says:

    I wish there was more information. My children attend TPD Schools and it’s worrisome to not know what is going on. Of course you can’t get through to the district number because everyone else is calling. And I imagine we wouldn’t get any more detailed info even if we could get through.

  3. W_Tacoma says:

    The statement, shown there as an e-mail, was also the text of a reverse 911 call I received this afternoon.

  4. BlueKitten says:

    I live across the street from my son’s middle school, and they announced over the intercom about 13 minutes ago that the lockdown is over.

  5. sjrautumn says:

    I have grandchildren who attend TPD Schools. I called both the main Tacoma Police Department and my sector station, neither could give me any info..not even to tell me what a “modified lockdown was” Of course the school number was busy. It seems to me the police department and the school district need to communicate more effectively to keep down parental panic!

  6. elemteacher says:

    I am a teacher in the TPS and we are now officially off of lockdown.

    A modified lockdown (to answer the above concern) is when we lock the doors that lead outside, and pull down all of the blinds in the classrooms (on the oustide windows). We are still able to roam and have class/lunch/specialists as if nothing is wrong, we just aren’t able to access outside and nobody is allowed to enter the building.

  7. TacomaScott says:

    Wow, way to incite general panic of every parent that has a student in TPS. My daughter attends Sherman Elementary… 8 MILES AWAY, and they were on lock down.

  8. TPS did a great job keeping us notified in a timely manner. My son text messaged me at 11:39am that Stadium was under lock down. We received a phone call and email from TPS at 12:16 telling about it (it matches what TNT reported). We received a 2nd email and phone call at 1:07pm that the lock down was over except for Stewart. My son soon confirmed this with another text message.

    If you weren’t kept informed then you should supply the school district with phone numbers and email addresses.

  9. cclngthr says:

    This would be similar to the shooting 3 years ago if it had been carried out. Is this overkill? In my opinion (as a teacher), maybe not. I was at Foss when the shooting ocurred and that did not go well.

  10. killemallletgodsortemout says:

    Although this type of activity could potentially happen anywhere ………this is y my children do not attend TPSD. Smaller school and the chances really do diminish.

  11. tacomaguy30 says:

    “…according to schools spokesman Dan Voelpel.”

    Dan Voelpel is the school spokesman?!? I thought he worked for Puyallup doing economic development…

  12. cclngthr says:

    Kids with guns can be seen anywhere, small school or large school. Doesn’t matter with size. It would regarding gang or criminal activity with juveniles in the area, which Tacoma has a problem with.

    It is not just a school problem with gangs. It is how society responds to it. Schools have to respond to it because gang activity is brought on campus from the students. The majority of the problem should be dealt with by parents and the police.

  13. kmac609 says:

    I remember the rather large earthquake we had in the early 60’s. I was in junior high school at Stewart. I can remember being afraid and I remember the teachers giving directions, most of us listened and we knew their job was to keep us safe. When I got home from school that day (yes we all stayed at school until our regular dismissal time) I told my mom what happened at school and she told me what happened at home. I imagine some parents called their kid’s school or the district offices but basically there was a trust that kids are the priority at school.

    I know there are issues in schools today that were not an issue back then – heck I was a senior in high school before someone was stabbed during lunch – but really folks, if you don’t feel that your kids are safe enough in Tacoma schools, put your money where your mouth is and send them to a private school.

    I have spent the last 25 years running youth summer camps. I have a risk management and emergency procedures manual that is 4 inches thick. My staff is trained every year in everything from how to help a homesick kid to what to do if there is an earthquake. My guess is the school district has the same kind of manuals and does the same kind of trainings.

  14. Kind of like the duck and cover drills in the early ’60’s.
    We were about a mile and a half from McChord so it
    wouldn’t have mattered much. I loved James Sales.

  15. Lakes was locked down too. Why the multi district lock down?

  16. curiousasacat says:

    Is anyone worried about where the gun ended up and if it was loaded?

  17. frankiethomas says:

    Dlb the schools were on lockdown for almost an hour-and-a-half before the district announced a thing to parents. The timing looks like they only made the announcement after the reporter called the police , You are satisfied with that?

  18. frankiethomas says:

    Whoops hit enter too fast. . . I can certainly see the district not wanting a panic of parents arriving at the schools and not wanting to release information before they have a handle on the situation.

  19. cclngthr says:


    The Foss HS incident was a disaster regarding parent notification/pickup. I think what they were trying to not let get out of hand. Whether every school needed to have a modified lockdown is necessary, it is not something to take lightly.

  20. frankiethomas says:

    cclngthr, what in any of my posts leads you to believe I took this LIGHTLY?

  21. Lincolnite says:

    Seems they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
    Yes it’s scary but panicking parents only compound situations like this. Gangs are still a problem in schools and the SD takes it seriously, as they should. Not everybody gets to go to small and/or private schools. We should be concerned at why this kid brought a gun in the first place. What “anouyness” posted above certainly ought to be looked into for possible intervention and not dismissed because a kid said it. Keep Davon and all our kids safe.

  22. SumnerSon says:

    Does anyone else have a problem with the grammar and spelling our fine young middle school student uses? This is very enlightening to how our education system is working.

    But what’s just as troubling is the message he or she brings to the public. Amazing how hard we try to promote education in other countries, while ours keeps slipping away piece by piece…….

    Third-world status, here we come……..

  23. I have a much bigger problem with the fact that he/she posted that comment and you all continued to babble on as though it hadn’t happened.

    Also, SumnerSon, you have some sentence fragments there and I see no need for that many periods in your ellipses. But that’s petty.

    I am hoping for more detail about what actually happened today.

  24. SearchAndScan says:

    This is why one shouldn’t live in Tacoma…or Lakewood…or Fife…or Seattle…

  25. Thats odd, i go to Wilson, and i went through school and activities all day and never head a thing about the lock-down until just now when my dad told me about it.

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