Police investigate Seymour High School student’s comment about a gun

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Seymour High School students who overheard a comment by a student about possibly having a gun in a backpack quickly notified administrators.

Jeremy Helmsing, public information officer for the Seymour Police Department, said once dispatch received a call after noon Friday, officers from local agencies responded to the school.

Police never found a gun, and they learned there was not an active shooter situation and there were no incidents or injuries.

“From what we can tell so far, essentially at a lunch period, a student asked another student, ‘Hey, do you have a gun?’ and he said, ‘Sure, I’ve got a gun at home,’ and the person that asked the question held a backpack up and says, ‘Well, I’ve got mine right here,’” Helmsing said. “That was at lunch around several people, and many of those people responded and relayed that information to administrators there at the school.”

Once police arrived, the student who said the comments was identified, and their backpack and locker were searched, Helmsing said.

“At this point, it’s looking like it’s going to be an unfounded comment more than anything,” he said.

Police searched the area extensively, including trash cans and other common areas where a person might dispose of a gun, and also followed the student’s path, and Helmsing said no weapon was recovered.

“There is no indicator that a gun was ever actually present there, and that’s also from the statement made by the accused,” Helmsing said. “The physical gun actually being there has never materialized at this point.”

The school went into a hard lockdown as police identified the student who made the comment and investigated. Helmsing said the lockdown lasted about 45 minutes.

“We remained on campus to make sure things resumed as usual, answered any questions students may have had,” he said. “Even though it wasn’t substantiated, it could be a traumatic incident. It’s scary for everybody involved, especially when you don’t know what’s going on.”

The student who made the comment was released to their parents, and Helmsing said the investigation is ongoing because the student will have to be interviewed with their parents present.

He expects the SPD investigations unit to release more information early next week.

In a letter posted on the Seymour Community School Corp. Facebook page Friday afternoon, SHS Principal Greg Prange praised everyone involved in investigating the situation.

“Collaborative efforts between SHS administration, SROs, Jackson County Emergency Management, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Seymour Police Department, Brownstown Police Department and cooperative parents revealed the potential threat and the handling of the situation,” Prange wrote in the letter.

He said at no time were SHS students, staff or facilities in danger.

“Parents, please maintain open lines of communication with your teenagers,” he wrote.

“Our society has evolved to the point that any and every threat is taken seriously, and we deal with them in a swift and definitive manner. We do not take any threat lightly and are very appreciative of students who ‘see something, say something,’” he said. “We appreciate your help, understanding, patience and prayers as we work as a team with parents to educate our youth. Thank you again for your help.”

Helmsing also noted the collaboration of school officials and law enforcement.

“If anything we could take away from this, it was just an awesome unified operation with the school, with adjoining agencies, with even the students there,” he said. “Everyone was cooperative. Everybody did what they were supposed to. It was literally a textbook crisis response situation. If there is a silver lining, that was it, kind of seeing that ‘Hey, we’re able to handle something like this.’”