MONTGOMERY, Alabama (WSFA) – The Dallas County Deputy Superintendent speaks for the first time after three loaded guns were found in a classroom and several students were arrested.
Three students were taken into custody on Friday after investigators received an anonymous call warning them that a loaded gun had been brought to Southside High School.
Dallas County Sheriff Mike Granthum said officers immediately closed the school and, using the appellant’s information, proceeded to a specific classroom.
The sheriff said an initial search of the classroom found a student with two fully loaded handguns, which were in a bag. Further research led investigators to locate a third loaded handgun, which was found in a jacket.
“It’s alarming to us that this has actually happened,” said Deputy Superintendent Vickie Poe.
When asked what these students intended to do with the loaded guns, Poe said “this investigation is still ongoing.”
Poe said the investigation is also still ongoing as to where the students obtained the guns and how the guns were able to get inside the school building.
Poe said that over the past few years, increased security has been a priority in Dallas County schools. She said they received frequent visits from police officers and Selma’s deputies with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
“They come and go all week,” Poe said.
She added that their schools have security systems in place, such as locked doors with keyless entry. She also said they have CCTV cameras and metal detectors.
When asked if the metal detectors had been used on the day of the incident, Poe replied, “I can’t speak to this situation at this time.”
Poe said the majority of incidents within their schools almost always start in the community.
“Things happen in the communities and then they end up in the building with us,” she said. “But when they brought it into our building, they made it our business.”
Two students were charged on Friday. The first student was charged with possession of two firearms, the other student with one.
While continuing to search the classroom, sheriff’s deputies found a third student who had an active “pickup” order against them, which is essentially an arrest warrant for a minor. Granthum said the student was wanted in an unrelated incident involving a shooting in an occupied vehicle or accommodation.
Poe said his district is committed to ensuring the safety of students. She encouraged everyone to say something if they saw anything.
Granthum called the person who called Friday a “hero.”
Poe thanked the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office for their quick response, saying, “I think everything went really well and it’s because of this partnership.”
Poe added that his district now has a mental health services coordinator who can help struggling students.
They also received a grant and this year launched a “peer helper” program that allows teachers to mentor selected groups of students in the classroom to serve as ambassadors in the school and help their peers in need.
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