South goes under lockdown after student claims possession of a gun

Riley Lynch '18, Graphics Manager

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On Tuesday, Oct. 25, South underwent a lockdown after a student made a comment about having a gun in their backpack, school officials said.

The statement was made in Elizabeth Triden’s seventh hour World History and Geography class at approximately 3:00 p.m.

According to Principal Moussa Hamka, Triden immediately called the main office, and the lockdown procedure followed suit.

Triden has declined to comment on the event.

After the phone call about the student’s comment was made, Hamka’s support staff in the office began making phone calls to the police, Hamka said. Within minutes, the building was surrounded by police.  

“The SWAT team was here,” Hamka said. “They had their assault rifles out, and they entered the building. And to see their bravery, to see them all running, converging to the room. They’re here to serve and protect. And we got to see that in action today.”

Tia Bishop ’20 was in the room when the comment was made, and said she was scared when the situation escalated, even though she did not hear the comment being made.

“I’ve never been that close to a gun before, so yeah, it was scary,” Bishop said. “We had no idea what was going on.”

Sophia Duff ’20 said she is disappointed because the perpetrator is in her grade, which she believes casts a negative light on her class.

Freshmen already get enough guff about dumb things other kids in the grade do,” Duff said. “This kid didn’t realize how serious something like that was, and what he did reflects poorly on all of us.”

Duff said in addition to disappointment, she felt frightened, and tried to contact friends and family in case the situation was as drastic as some rumors made it out to be.

Speculation arose early as students exchanged information about a possible stabbing at Fresh Farms Market, according to Duff, but the rumor was dispelled after Hamka made an announcement about what had actually occurred.  

English teacher Katie Parent, whose room is in a different building but is parallel to Triden’s room, said she knew that the announcement was not regarding a drill due to the fact that it was at the end of the day.  

After Hamka told the school that the lockdown was not a drill and was caused by a student claiming to have a gun, Parent said she was offended by how the student made the comment, regardless of whether it was serious or not.

“I think the biggest takeaway from this is that there are certain things we can’t joke about,” Parent said. “In this day and age, school violence is incredibly real. Even the slightest mention of endangering the school is taken with the utmost seriousness and is met with grave repercussions. There is no such thing as ‘just joking’ when it comes to the safety of nearly 2,000 people.”

Timor Betzer ’18 recently transferred from Berkley High School to South, and said he thinks that while incidents from prior years affect the school as a whole, this particular situation reflects mostly on the student who made the comment.

“[This incident] doesn’t reflect much on Grosse Pointe as the past has,” Betzer said. “That group stuff–the choir situation, the racial incidents–that reflects on Grosse Pointe.  But this reflects more on the individual.”

Betzer said he also believes that one of the worst parts of the incident was the rumor of a stabbing at Farms.

“I think the worst part of this whole ‘adventure’ today was the rumor that somebody got stabbed at Farms,” Betzer said. “So many people believed it because everyone was saying it, and that’s what was scary.”

Hamka said he ran to the room where the incident occurred after initiating the lockdown announcement to check on the safety of the students in the room. Police entered shortly after, with their weapons drawn, and searched each student and their belongings.

“I ran to that room. I said to go into lockdown, and I ran to that room,” Hamka said. “So while you can have all the protocols in place, your heart starts beating. And I just started thinking of all the kids in that classroom. I remember, that while I was running down, the only thing I could think of is man, ‘there’s kids in there’. And I just started thinking of my own kids. I’m a father of three. So, there are protocols. But, oftentimes when this happens, your instincts do take over.”

The student who made the comment did not have a weapon on them or in their backpack, according to Hamka. They were later taken into police custody.

Hamka said he is proud of the way students and faculty handled the incident.

“I would like to thank the staff and the students,” Hamka said. “Sometimes, students wonder why we run the drills, why do we go through some of these procedures, and oftentimes students don’t take them as seriously as we want them to. And in the event of a real lockdown, such as today, I think it becomes clearly evident why those drills are so important.”

However, Hamka said in the future, he encourages students to refrain from texting and and using social media during a lockdown, to prevent misinformation.

“A rumor might create more fear and more anxiety than what is needed. Especially in the absence of information,” Hamka said.

Despite being upset with the situation, Duff said she believes that there may be a lesson to be learned.

“We can learn a lot from this,” Duff said. “When someone doesn’t realize what they’re saying or how serious the threat is, it negatively affects everyone. If the kid had never done what they did, there wouldn’t have been panic. I wish they would have thought before saying something like that.”

Hamka said the words students choose matter heavily, and he urges students to be cautious with what they say.

I think luckily, this ended peacefully and that the student did not have a gun,” Hamka said. “But, how many parents were worried today? How many students were terrified as they hunkered down, sheltered? I think those raw emotions of fear, they’re real. And you are responsible for your words, when you make people feel that way. When you incite fear in people that way, I think you are responsible for the words that you choose. Whether it’s in social media, whether it’s in person, this is a great reminder.”

The lockdown concluded around 3:25 p.m.

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