Law Enforcement Responds to Reports of Threat on Campus

At 1:35 p.m., on Wednesday, April 2, an external threat lockdown was issued at Westwood High School. Students were instructed to stay in their classrooms, and proceeded to wait until the Williamson County Sheriff’s confirmed that the threat was concluded. During the lockdown, concerned parents communicated with the students to ensure their children’s safety. Uneasy students also verified their situation with each other, and as the risk concluded, friends could be seen embracing each other in the hallways. Principal Mario Acosta later sent out an email to parents clarifying information about the situation that had occurred, reassuring parents that their children are safe.

It has now been confirmed that the front office staff received information from multiple students that “a potential threat off the campus could be coming to the campus.” This information was immediately passed to campus resource officers, who investigated and received further information that a student on campus was in possession of a firearm, which caused them to place the school in an external-threat lockdown. The weapon and student in question were not on campus, so officers then began to investigate the student’s whereabouts. Once located, the student admitted to having a BB gun on campus before he left the school. The unnamed student has now been removed from the campus, with further legal action being investigated. Principal Mario Acosta has already addressed issues of an absence of communication, and ensured teachers and parents that, hereafter, he will rapidly inform departments more fully about the situation.

We got a report that there was a gun on campus.

— Principal Mario Acosta

“We got a report that there was a gun on campus,” Principal Acosta said. “There was not. No one got shot. I want you to know the person of interest is secure and is not a threat to Westwood. Our actions were preventative to make it easier for the police to do their job.”

During the issue, certain procedures were followed to ensure students’ safety. The office initiated the lockdown before second lunch to freeze the location of each student before they could possibly leave campus. They investigated the reports to assess the credibility of the threat and made sure to keep students inside their classrooms to prevent any additional complications.

We have to investigate,” Deputy Jim Williby said.“We don’t know how credible a threat is until we get more information.”

While Associate Principal Kim Hodge assured the student body multiple times that there was never a danger on campus, during and after the lockdown, students are still a bit rattled by the whole situation, and are curious as to what actually occurred. Law enforcement did not allow Ms. Hodge to announce what exactly had occurred outside during the lockdown. Still, students felt comforted by the safety precautions already in place by the school.

“The school is doing good with the exits and entrances being locked,” Amelia Sadler ‘21 said. “I have friends that have trouble getting into the school during the school day so hopefully that works for an intruder too. After the lockdown, I just wanted to know what happened.”

Procedures have already been put in place since concerns after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last year, and new changes are constantly being added to better protect students. Previously open doors are now locked during the school day so that students only have select access points to enter the school.

The following day, Mr. Acosta addressed the students through the announcements, dispelling rumors and ensuring the students that they were free from danger. Mr. Acosta also thanked the students who disclosed their concerns, requesting students to quickly report to officials if they see something suspicious.

“During the lockdown I wasn’t too nervous or scared because we have sheriffs,” Emily Yuan ‘21 said. “[But], the school should keep listening to students when they have concerns, like this.”

This experience has also served as a learning opportunity for the administration, teaching them what procedures need to be altered to help make urgent communications go more smoothly. Deputies and SRO’s inside the school have expanded their knowledge with this investigation and are now better equipped to handle future conflicts. As with any developing situation, only time can tell how it will play out, and how this occurrence will affect future daily routines at Westwood.