Insubstantial threat leads to lockdown at North High School

Lucy Gabel '25 and Grace Campbell '25

IN PREPARATION Grosse Pointe North students barricade the door to a classroom, a photo that’s already been reposted on social media thousands of times. (Lucy Gabel ’25)

The lights turn off with a quiet “click”. The overhead speakers crackle to a stop. In a mere moment, the hasty dashes and casual conversations before class are at a standstill. On the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 19, shortly after 12:30 p.m., the students of Grosse Pointe North have descended into an active shooter lockdown.

In district communication, it was revealed that an anonymous call was made to the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department (GPWPSD) indicating that there was an active shooter at Grosse Pointe North High School. Lockdown was immediately put into place and lifted approximately 30 minutes later. North resumed class the next day at the usual start time, 8 a.m. with police presence to ensure the student’s safety. Jillian Nixon ’25 says the protocol terrified her, a feeling she’ll never forget.

“I was in choir, and all of a sudden we’re in the middle of doing something and I heard the alarm go off,” Nixon said. “And it didn’t even register in my mind that it was the lockdown alarm, I just kind of instinctually started running toward the back of the room.”

At first, Nixon was in more disbelief than fear. There was a false fire alarm pull earlier this year, which led her to believe this situation was similar. Due to her location, a shooter hasn’t been her primary concern.

“I was definitely very scared,” Nixon said. “But I was in a very secluded part of the school, so I didn’t feel as nervous as some of my friends who were being evacuated.”

Although Grosse Pointe North took the proper precautions, with the lack of information students and teachers had, rumors started spreading like wildfire. According to Nixon, these rumors were a large source of “information” due to `eager curiosity. These rumors, however, created more fear and difficulty, she added.

“It would be easier if people would have just waited to hear from the actual authority of what was going on,” Nixon said. “Because I think the spreading of rumors made people a lot more terrified than they really needed to be.”

According to school-specialized Grosse Pointe Farms police officer John Ross, rumors surrounding threats are harmful and tend to incite panic among parents as well. He stresses that in a situation like this, people should examine facts, not rumors.

“It didn’t even register in my mind that it was the lockdown alarm, I just kind of instinctually started running toward the back of the room.

— Jillian Nixon '25

“It matters to always wait for official statements and not to listen to anything else,” Ross said. “I was hearing rumors around 6 at night that there was an actual gun at North, which was completely false.”

Ross says that a call came on the radio that there was an active shooting threat at Grosse Pointe North, and the GPWPSD immediately responded. Luckily, it was almost immediately determined that it was not a valid threat.

“Somebody thought it was a good idea to (make the threat),” Ross said. “Not necessarily (to) pull a prank, but (because) would be funny or interesting to see how the police would respond.”

After the recent increase in school shootings nationwide, one of which is close to home (Oxford), North students find it disheartening that someone would take this serious and probable event lightly.

“There’s something so sad about (school shootings), that people will threaten them,” Nixon said. “And also it’s just part of our lives. It hasn’t even processed in my brain.”