TIVERTON — A single bullet found on a sink in a boys’ bathroom at Tiverton High School at noon last Friday led to a lockdown of the school during the afternoon for close to four hours, and a personal search of all the students, their backpacks and their lockers.
It also resulted in a search of all rooms in the school — twice — by a firearm-sniffing dog from the Fall River Police Department, the second of which was conducted after the students had emptied out of the building and gone to their buses and other transportation and headed home.
The lockdown was over for the students at 2:30 p.m., for the dozen or so responding Tiverton police officers who cleared the scene around 2:45 p.m., and for the police dog at 4 p.m., when it finally left the building after the second search.
“It is unfortunate that we have to deal with these types of events, if they are motivated by a student conducting a prank,” said Tiverton Police Captain Patrick Jones. “We as a police department take this seriously. Any student who would bring live ammunition to school, or merely possess live ammunition in that environment, has endangered the safety of the school, which we will not tolerate.”
The incident began at 12:10 p.m., said Captain Jones, when School Resource Officer, Sergeant Kenneth Cabral, was approached by a school administrator who had been handed a single round of live ammunition by a student, who had found it on a sink in a bathroom. The student gave it to the administrator, who in turn gave it to Officer Cabral.
Captain Jones declined to disclose the type of ammunition or its caliber.
Sgt. Cabral contacted police headquarters immediately. The decision “to initiate a lockdown” was made by police, Captain Jones said, with the involvement and consent of school administrators (the principal, vice principal, and superintendent).
“When any of our schools need to respond to an outside threat,” said Superintendent of Schools William Rearick, “we turn the matter over to the Tiverton Police Department or, if the situation requires, to the Tiverton Fire Department. On Friday, Captain Jones assumed control of the situation and it was determined that all requests for information were to go through him.”
Captain Jones said a “Code Red” announcement — those were the actual words used — went out through the entire school, whereupon teachers locked all the classroom doors “and all students went into safe corners of their rooms.”
Then police began an extensive search of lockers, the students, and their backpacks.
“We wanded them,” said Captain Jones, “just like at the airport.” And the canine unit, he said, conducted its first sweep of all the rooms.
All school and student activities were cancelled for Friday evening, including a dance, Captain Jones said.
Police involved at the scene, he said, met later in the afternoon at police headquarters for an after-action review of everything that had been done, with the goal of improving future responses.
Superintendent William Rearick said school officials would be meeting with Captain Jones “to see if we can improve on our own responses during a lockdown. We will continue to have mock lockdowns, so students and staff will become more familiar with our safety protocols.”
This incident remains under investigation by police, Captain Jones said, with the cooperation of school officials.
Superintendent Rearick said police “will be examining the video footage from the cameras that are located in our hallway.”
Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to contact the Tiverton Police Department (401-625-6717) and ask to speak to an officer.