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Gun scare prompts lockdown at HJHS

Principal Tom Montoya explains to students in the gym why the lockdown was necessary.

Sun Advocate associate editor

A fake rifle touched off a real response in Helper Tuesday morning. Law enforcement officers from three agencies rushed to Helper Junior High School and Sally Mauro Elementary when it was reported that a young man had been seen toting a gun in the junior high neighborhood.

It turned out the the youth was a Carbon High School drama student who was bringing a stage prop to his school in Price. However, that was learned after the response was under way.

Before the true nature of the rifle was discovered, the junior high was notified of the sighting and went into a full lockdown. Students and teachers evacuated classrooms, assembled in the gym and waited.

Meanwhile, Helper and Price police and the Utah Highway patrol had blocked off Uintah Street. Officers then opened every student locker in the school, making sure that the supposed weapon had not been hidden by a student.

While this was going on in school, other officers were investigating around town. They found out the student's name and address. They learned from his mother that he was on the school bus headed for Carbon High carrying a stage prop rifle.

That led the search to the high school, where the student was able to confirm that the "weapon" was fake.

Back at HJHS, principal Tom Montoya reported the situation first to his faculty and staff, then to the assembled students. "You have been through drills before," he told the students. "Now you have been through a real lockdown."

The principal explained that their lockers had been searched as a precaution, and that nothing had been disturbed or taken from the lockers.

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