UPDATE AS OF 2:00 p.m. on Monday, January 14

The lockdown at Missoula’s Sentinel High School ended at about noon on Monday, after a full pistol magazine was found inside the high school building at about 8:00 a.m.

After all the students were sent home, boarded buses or were picked up by parents or family members, Communications Director Hatton Littman met with the media and explained what happened.

“This morning, a magazine that goes to a handgun was found on the floor in a hallway inside the school,” said Littman. “The magazine was loaded with ammunition. It was reported to the office and turned in immediately, and a search was started immediately. Staff were alerted and a lockdown was initiated at about 8:30 a.m. Students stayed in their first period classes until 12:05 p.m. when we lifted the lockdown.”

Littman explained the process of allowing students to leave the school building after the lockdown was lifted.

“We initiated the process of lifting the lockdown by essentially opening two classrooms at a time and staff and Missoula police officers were escorting students through the hallways and out of the building,” she said. “There will be a more comprehensive search of the school building now that the building is cleared. There was an initial search completed and it was determined in coordination of local law enforcement that the best course of action would be to dismiss students from school and conduct a more thorough search.”

Littman was asked about the ongoing construction at the school and how that added complexity to the lockdown scenario.

“The school is under construction and will be for another year, and both students and construction workers access our school throughout the day, so it’s pretty common to have both groups in the school throughout the day,” she said. “As soon as the lockdown was initiated we notified our construction partners to let them know should they need to make any decisions about their own staff safety, but it didn’t create any obstacles during the lockdown.”

Littman said school policies regarding firearms on any campus are clear.

“Our district policies are very clear that we have a weapons-free campus,” she said. “Discipline for weapons related issues can range widely and will always involve a referral to law enforcement,” she said. “There is not only school-based discipline but there can also be criminal charges involved.”

School officials and several law enforcement officers spent the rest of the afternoon conducting a thorough search of the Sentinel campus. It is not known at this time if any other possibly harmful objects were found.

Littman said the school district will make decisions about classes on Tuesday later in the afternoon.

UPDATE as of 12:04 p.m.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Courtesy of MCPS:

Sentinel Families:

We have completed an initial visual search of the school. At this point, we are dismissing students to allow for a more comprehensive search. We feel dismissing students is also the best and safest solution for the school. We will be organizing their dismissal in waves to maintain student supervision and safety.

Dismissal will start at 12:05 p.m.

Students will be transported via normal bus routes, student personal cars, and parent pick up.

We will dismiss students wing by wing. This will allow students to retrieve personal items from their locker as they exit. Law enforcement will be supervising students loading busses and going to the parking lot.

Parents who wish to pick up their students can park at the Missoula Seventh Day Adventist Church across the street from the school at 800 South Ave. Students will be escorted across the street to meet their parents.

Parents of students in our Center-based classrooms may pick up their students at the South Avenue entrance to the building.

Missoula Police Department staff will be directing traffic around the school to maintain safety.

Student and staff safety is our top priority. We appreciate your patience during the lockdown this morning. We want to ensure a safe and orderly dismissal from school.

Sincerely,

Ted Fuller

Principal

Sentinel High School

ORIGINAL STORY-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Missoula County Public Schools reports that Sentinel High School in Missoula is locked down after some gun ammunition was found on Monday morning. School officials have notified parents that the school is locked down and that nobody is allowed into or out of the building. This is the message that MCPS sent to parents:

Good morning Sentinel Families:

This morning, a loaded ammunition clip fitting a handgun was found laying on the ground within a hallway at Sentinel High School. The ammunition was turned into the office and we immediately started an investigation to identify the source of ammunition and look for a possible weapon. We have initiated a lockdown during this investigation to protect students and staff.

A Lockdown involves a “no one in, no one out” scenario. During a lockdown, we will notify parents by email, text & phone. Our main doors will be locked and a sign will indicate NO ENTRY. Students will not be dismissed until we issue an ALL CLEAR.

We will follow up with details as we have more information.

Sincerely,

Ted Fuller

Principal

Sentinel High School