Wake County Schools

Students with pellet gun prompted lockdown at Leesville Road school campus in Raleigh

Posted February 24, 2020 1:47 p.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2020 7:21 p.m. EST

— A three-school campus on Leesville Road in Raleigh was briefly on a Code Red lockdown Monday afternoon as police investigated a possible weapon in a nearby neighborhood.

The Raleigh Police Department ordered the lockdown of Leesville Road High School, Leesville Road Middle School and Leesville Road Elementary School at 12:50 p.m. after a nearby resident called 911 to report seeing someone walking in the area carrying what appeared to be a firearm, said Heather Lawing, a spokeswoman for the Wake County Public School System.

During the lockdown, police could be seen patrolling the campus on foot and in patrol vehicles. Panicked parents, who had received an automated message about the lockdown from the school district as well as text messages from students, lined up along Pride Way, which runs past all three schools, to pick up their children.

Joaquin Bello, a freshman at Leesville Road High, said school officials didn’t say what triggered the lockdown, so he went to social media to find out.

"I was checking my Snapchat stories. They were saying there were two shooters in the building," said Bello, who then texted his parents.

"I said that I was scared and then that I was going to be OK," he said.

Bello's father rushed to school after first sending him texts with instructions on how to protect himself during a shooting.

Jeff Holland, whose son also is a freshman at the high school, said he decided to head to the school after his son stopped sending updates to him about the situation.

"He sent a few more texts, and then it went silent. We didn’t hear any more from him. All we knew was that he was under a Code Red and didn’t know what the circumstances were," Holland said. "You really have no idea [what to expect]. You know something is going on, but you have no news, no information."

The lockdown was lifted at about 1:30 p.m.

Lawing said police were able to identify three students connected to the allegations. Those students were quickly separated from others, and officers found two of them to be in possession of an Airsoft pellet gun and two pocketknives, she said.

"While there was no threat against the school or anyone at the school, bringing an Airsoft gun on campus is a very serious offense," Lawing said. "Some parents and students mistakenly regard [Airsoft guns] as 'toys,' [they] represent a threat to the safety of our students and staff. They are strictly prohibited on school property."

The two students who had the gun will face prosecution and disciplinary action, she said.

A Raleigh police spokeswoman said the two students are juveniles, so their names won't be released.

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