ATLANTIC CITY — Students at the High School were put into a lockdown Wednesday morning after a student received a threatening text message about weapons on the football field, school officials said.
The lockdown was lifted and students dismissed for a regularly scheduled half-day after a police investigation resulted in no firearms being found in or around the school, Superintendent Barry Caldwell said.
Police were already at the high school Wednesday for added security in preparation for students’ participation in the national #Enough school walkout to protest gun violence and to mark the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed. Caldwell said the walkout was canceled but the names of the victims were read aloud over the school intercom.
“As a superintendent, I believe it was positive that our students were looking to express themselves through peaceful civic activism. This is not going to stop our students’ activism. We will find another way to express ourselves and have our voices be heard,” Caldwell said.
The lockdown began at 10 a.m. — the same time as the planned walkout — as several students were interviewed as potential witnesses. Officers, along with their K-9 partners, searched both outside and inside the school.
Lines of cars were stopped westbound on Route 40 as Atlantic City police blocked the ramp to the school.
Students posted videos of the lockdown on Snapchat, including an announcement over the the loudspeaker that students were to shelter in place and remain quiet. In another video, a filing cabinet was pushed in front of a classroom door to block entry.
Caldwell said some students were interviewed by police as part of their investigation, but he did not say if they were involved in the incident. He said no student had been disciplined but the police investigation continues.
Caldwell said he could not say who made the threat and their relationship to the school district until police complete their investigation.
“We will sweep our building with dogs to make sure everything is safe for school tomorrow,” Caldwell said. “I don’t know if it was a hoax, but we take everything seriously, and as of right now, there’s no credibility to weapons.”
All after-school activities and sports were canceled, according to the police.
Atlantic City police tweeted at 10:23 a.m. that the school was on lockdown but all students and faculty were safe. The tweet said parents should not call the school or 911.
Police later tweeted to advise parents against coming to the high school because they would be turned away.
Atlantic City High School is currently on lockdown due to an active police investigation. All students and faculty are safe. Parents are asked not to call the school or 911 at this time. More information will be released when it becomes available.— Atlantic City Police (@AtlanticCityPD) March 14, 2018
A photographer with The Press of Atlantic City was at the scene to take photos of the demonstration but was told just before 10 a.m. to remain in her vehicle due to the lockdown.
Students at Atlantic City High School were scheduled to take part in the 17 minute walkout for #enough. Shortly before 10 AM the school was put on lockdown for a police investigation. Officers and K9 are still searching the fields surrounding the school. Students are inside. pic.twitter.com/4lIt5rS1Md— Erin Grugan (@ACPressGrugan) March 14, 2018
About 20 police cars were on the scene about 10 a.m. Atlantic City police and State Police were stationed outside the school.
Police officers and a K-9 officer could be seen searching the athletic fields outside the school about 10:30 a.m.
State Police confirmed they were assisting Atlantic City.
A spokesman for Atlantic City Police Department, Sgt. Kevin Fair, could not be reached for comment.