UPDATE: 4:21 p.m. - Sept. 2, 2021
MISSOULA - We are learning more information about Thursday afternoon's lockdown at Hellgate High School.
The Missoula Police Department is holding three juveniles for questioning following the incident.
Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Lydia Arnold says School Resource Officer Burton was at the scene when the school administration office was advised of a student reporting being told to leave school.
The student reported they had been told there was a student with a firearm and some sort of event was going to take place at 1:30 p.m. A lockdown was then called at the school.
Agencies including FBI, US Marshalls, Probation and Parole, the Missoula County Sheriff's Office, and the Montana Highway Patrol all responded to assist MPD and a perimeter was set up around the school as well as in the neighborhood.
Arnold says officers were placed on each floor of the school "in a systematic approach to maintain the safety of the students during the lockdown."
Three juveniles associated with the threat made were identified and law enforcement removed them from a classroom. They are being detained and their parents are being contacted as the investigation continues.
The lockdown was lifted at around 2:38 p.m. and Arnold notes MPD "does not believe there is a threat to the public or to the school, but Officers are still on scene for continued investigation."
Hellgate High School Principal Judson Miller told MTN News a student reported to the administration that two other students had told him they were in possession of a firearm and that they were planning to use the weapon in some way.
The entire building was in lockdown in less than a minute and police arrived on the scene within two minutes. Law enforcement and school leaders used cameras to identify the students who made the initial threat. Once they were able to identify the students, isolate them and then questioned them.
“When we get a report like that, unfortunately, there's just a protocol that we work through, so it's just immediate like, ‘next step next step, next step.’ We work through that. The first thing that I told our students in the assembly is that they were safe, and I thanked our entire school for being calm, working through our protocols. It's only day three right now, and obviously, we haven't practiced this, and everything went as well as it could have gone.” - Principal Judson Miller
Classes will resume at Hellgate High School on Friday and counseling will be available for students and staff.
Check back for updates.
- information from Megan Mannering, Geneva Zoltek, Melissa Rafferty and Mark Thorsell included in this report.
(second report: 2:50 p.m. - Sept. 2, 2021)
MISSOULA - Missoula Police Department spokeswoman Lydia Arnold says the lockdown instituted at Hellgate High School has been lifted.
Officers are remaining at the scene to investigate the incident.
Three juveniles are being detained for questioning, a MPD social media post states.
There is currently "no known safety threat," according to MPD.
Arnold no injuries have been reported.
A letter sent from Hellgate High School Principal Justin Miller states "we had a few students indicate they had a firearm" and that a "school shooting" was planned.
A school assembly was held following the lockdown to update students and staff on the situation.
(first report: 2:09 p.m. - Sept. 2, 2021)
Hellgate High School in Missoula is locked down due to a nearby incident.
Missoula Police Department spokeswoman Lydia Arnold tells MTN News that police are on the scene of a potential threat near the high school. Arnold said they received a tip of a potential threat near the school.
Hellgate High School and the surrounding neighborhoods are under lockdown as MPD tracks down the potential threat. Arnold would not elaborate on the threat saying they are currently investigating the source of the tip and the potential threat.
Roads are closed surrounding Hellgate High School at this time and MPD is asking people to avoid the area. An alert sent out states that Higgins Avenue between South Fifth Street West and Connell Avenue is expected to be closed for the next hour.
The University of Montana Police Department released the following alert:
"Hellgate Highschool is currently LOCKED DOWN. There is a lot of law enforcement traffic & activity in the area. Please stay clear of the area until the situation is cleared. There is currently no know threat to the University of Montana Campus. Fraternities and Sororities on Gerald should avoid Hellgate High School. A follow-up message will come once more information is received."
We will have additional information as it becomes available.