LITHIA, Fla. (WFLA) – The report of a gunshot at a middle school in Lithia that sparked panic and sent two schools into lockdown was a false alarm, the Hillsborough County sheriff said.
Deputies responded to Barrington Middle School on Wednesday afternoon after receiving a call about “the sound of a gunshot.” When deputies got to the school, they determined no one was injured and no gun was found.
“To all the parents out there, this was a false alarm,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “No student was ever in danger.”
But as false as Wednesday’s report was, Chronister said the fear was real.
“These kids were traumatized today. The deputies, the school administrators were traumatized today because somebody wanted to make a phone call,” he said. “No one told these young kids that this was a real threat or a fake threat. All they know is they had to hide in a corner, they had to hide underneath their desk.”
According to Chronister, the fake 911 call came in at 2:14 p.m. stating someone on the school’s campus had a firearm.
As a precaution, Barrington Middle School and nearby Stowers Elementary School were placed on lockdown and then lockout. Deputies eventually gave the all-clear, allowing students to leave or be picked up by parents.
“I can’t say it enough how sick in my stomach I was as…I saw the parents that were traumatized, grabbing their kids, grateful that they were still alive,” Chronister said. “The fear in these young kids’ faces as they embraced their parents knowing that – the realization had hit them that they were okay, that they weren’t harmed. This has become too real.”
Chronister said the good news that came out of Wednesday’s scare was the response from authorities.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of the response here from the school resource deputy that was on scene to the school administrators, the school staff that immediately went into active shooter protocol to the deputies who work this area who had that robust and warp-speed response,” the sheriff said.
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