Woolgoolga High in lockdown
IT was the worst text message a parent could receive.
It read: “The school’s in lockdown, there are police in vests everywhere, some dude’s lost it.”
When Joanne Murray read those chilling words from her daughter yesterday she rushed to Woolgoolga High School where moments earlier, a teenager had threatened to gun down fellow students.
“They were all made to sit under their desks,” Ms Murray said.
“My daughter said ‘I’m in metal work, they’re not ringing the recess bell and I’m hungry’.
“I couldn’t get past the police, I couldn’t ask where my daughter was. Obviously everybody’s safe but that doesn’t help you not to be concerned.”
The dramatic events unfolded just as school was going in at 8.50am when a boy, 14, was talking to another student on the edge of the school grounds.
He reportedly told her he had a firearm in his bag and he was going to shoot students.
Police have since confirmed the threat stemmed from a conflict the boy had with other students. There were also unconfirmed reports the boy had been suspended from the school on Thursday.
The girl told her teachers about the threat and the school was locked down – students and staff were confined to their classrooms and in many cases hid under their desks.
Three police vehicles with armed officers wearing protective vests swarmed onto the grounds and established a security cordon.
Police found the 14-year-old nearby about 11am and established no weapon had been involved. No-one was injured.
He was arrested and taken to Woolgoolga Police Station and was released from custody yesterday afternoon.
Once police had given the all-clear, school principal John Ward emerged to greet the anxious parents.
The students came out shortly after and the school slowly returned to normal. Pupils were allowed to go home with their parents.
Mr Ward revealed few details and referred inquiries to the Department of Education’s media office which said the boy did not enter the school grounds. “We were looking into an incident which has been resolved. Everyone is safe,” Mr Ward said.
Police were late yesterday still piecing together the circumstances surrounding the emergency.