MISSOULA – Missoula County Public Schools is still dealing with the fallout of finding a loaded handgun magazine inside Sentinel High School.
An actual weapon, however, has not has not been found, but MCPS and the Missoula Police Department will now conduct a broader search of the school to try and guarantee the safety of Sentinel students and staff.
“So we are outside of Sentinel High School, where this morning a magazine that goes to a handgun was found on the floor in a hallway inside of the school,” MCPS Communications director Hatton Littman said. “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 to start a lockdown at about 8:30 a.m.”
The magazine was spotted by a group of students who heard the magazine hit the ground, which then lead to a search conducted by MCPS and a lockdown of the school that included the assistance of the Missoula Police Department.
“MPD officers are just maintaining the perimeter on the building to help establish that lockdown,” said MPD public information officer Travis Welsh. “It’s faculty and staff that are doing any searching or investigating inside the building at this point.”
MCPS used social media, emails and cell phones to notify parents and the community of the lockdown.
MCPS officials, with the guidance of law enforcement, decided the school was safe enough to start releasing students at 12:05 p.m.
“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,” Littman said.
With students and staff out of the building the school district and law enforcement will begin a more thorough search of the school to make sure no dangerous items are still on campus
“There will be a more comprehensive search that’s conducted in the school, now that the building is cleared. There was an initial search completed and it was determined in coordination with local law enforcement that the best thing to do would be to dismiss students from school and complete a more thorough search,” Littman added.
MCPS officials say that they do not have a suspect at this point, but might have some descriptions of who that might be.
Regular class schedules will resume at Sentinel on Tuesday.