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Loud noise leads to MG lockdown

INVESTIGATION: More than 100 police officers responded to a 911 call at Madison-Grant Junior/Senior High School Tuesday morning. What had reportedly been the sound of gunshots is believed to have been noises from active construction inside the school.

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

More than 100 police officers representing seven departments responded to a call from the Madison-Grant Community Schools central office Tuesday morning, in reaction to what had reportedly been three gunshots heard on the Junior/Senior High grounds.

A lockdown, meaning students remained in class and no one was allowed in or out of the school except police and adminstrators, was in place in the morning. Shots were not verified and the sounds were later thought to be from construction work inside the school.

Superintendent Scott Deetz said the central office received an internal call from the Junior-Senior high at approximately 9:15 a.m. stating they had heard sounds resembling gun shots in the building. The school then went into lockdown mode and the central office notified the police to request assistance, he said.

The response time was under five minutes with officers arriving on scene and within ten minutes, seven police agencies – including the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, Fairmount Police Department, Summitville Police Department, Alexandria Police Department and the Gas City Police Department – were on scene along with ambulance and EMA services.

According to a statement from Grant County Sheriff’s Department’s Capt. Ed Beaty, the Indiana State Police also conducted an aerial search.

Deetz said all classrooms, cars and buildings on the property were searched as well as the woods across from the building.

By 9:45 a.m., Beaty said the search had been concluded and began clearing the property. Deetz said by 9:55 a.m., students moved on to their next class and all regularly scheduled activities resumed as the lockdown ended.

Some police officers remained onsite and there was a police presence at each elementary school for the remainder of the day, to ensure everyone felt safe and everything was back on track, Deetz said.

Parents and guardians were also immediately informed. Deetz said even on the onset of the lockdown, the school system made a phone call to all families in the district to let them know what was going on and then sent out another follow-up message when the building was turned back over to the school.

Though the situation proved to be more of a drill, Deetz said they plan to start reviewing how everything unfolded along with the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, so that everyone can learn from it.

Earlier in the day he said the school planned to have an all-school staff meeting after school to gather input, questions, concerns and to review things they found along the way to continue to refine processes and protocols.

“Although this was an unsubstantiated alarm, it was the willingness of the school administrators to sound the alarm after hearing what was believed to be gunshots,” Beaty said. “It is a testament that the local school officials place the safety of our children first and foremost.”

Deetz said the level of coordination between all of the police departments was seamless, making it seem as if they worked together everyday.

“It was absolutely amazing. The level of care and support that was executed in 20-25 minutes was absolutely amazing, I cannot say that word enough,” Deetz said. “I’m not saying that because I’m surprised, because this is what they do and their focus on safety is paramount, but it is amazing to see in action and I cannot emphasize that enough.”