HHS was on lockdown due to a weapon threat
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All of the doors were locked and Principal Gary Brady forbade anyone to leave the classroom. This was not any ordinary tardy lockout.
Hillsborough began a lockdown at 2:20 p.m., Oct. 26, after receiving an anonymous threat that a weapon was on campus. Tampa Police and the school security were contacted and acted quickly by investigating the situation. After inspection, the source of the call was identified as false.
In Seminole Heights, 3 residents were killed over the past 2 weeks. Due to the proximity, Brady and the administration encouraged students to leave campus immediately unless with a sponsor or teacher. According to the Hillsborough County Public Schools Media Outreach Coordinator Tanya Arja, “School administration has relayed safety tips to students, staff and our families, including the importance of traveling in groups and being aware of your surroundings at all times.”
In the classrooms, students and teachers were originally unaware of the circumstances. Some classrooms maintained their routine while in others, students ducked under desks and tried to protect themselves. Fear quickly spread across the campus as a helicopter and ambulances were heard and students were unsure if they were related.
“They locked the doors & turned off the lights and I was just scared in the moment,” freshman Brad Silvera said.
However, in some classrooms students and teachers attempted to make light of the situation. “Most of us freshmen, we didn’t really mind it and they were making jokes in class and stuff too,” Jaqueline Navarro said. “Because there was nothing we could really do, we just locked the door and you could still see through the blinds.”
According to numerous students, the first assumption was that the Seminole Heights murderer was connected to the lockdown. Senior Angie Edwards was worried about her younger siblings who meet her after school and she inferred that the killer was involved. “Especially because it has been so recent, it was all I could think of,” she said. “Just the thought of it being so close and it carrying into school would’ve been very scary.”
To freshman Kylie Smith, her initial reaction was to hope it was an opportunity for the killer to be found. “I was pretty excited I was like man they’re going to catch him finally,” she said. But some students like Navarro thought it was unlikely that this occurred. “It would be so sudden, I don’t think the killer would come on campus he’d probably get caught,” she said.
Once Brady announced that the threat was a prank call, students said they felt exasperated. “I was pretty irritated because it was a prank call and it was just done for fun and other people were worried and some parents too,” senior Anagha Doddamane said.
Overall, students felt that the situation was handled well by the school. “I was not frightened because I know our staff will take care of us,” junior Cristina Villagomez said. “[Brady made me feel safe], especially because he made several announcements letting us know this is going on and not to worry.”
According to Brady, the students and staff were safe at all times.