VIRGINIA BEACH - A large police presence at a Va. Beach high school concerned many parents who didn't initially know what was going on.
At first, police said they were at Ocean Lakes High School to check on a student after he had a dispute with his mother and then went to school.
Around 5 p.m., police spokeswoman MPO Grazia Moyers released information indicating a parent had contacted police Thursday morning to say she saw a gun in her son's car the day before.
Officers searched the area, to include buses and school, said Moyers.
The student was located and police were questioning him.
According to Moyers, 'the officers determined that there had been a dispute between the student and his parent and that the weapon in question was merely a photograph located on the student's phone.'
Many parents shared their concerns on WVEC's Facebook page during the early stages of the investigation.
Jason Ziebold wrote, 'The automated recording claimed kids are safe and student has been located but my daughter is there and well it's not sitting well with me. '
'That many police searching over an argument????,' questioned Melissa Bazile.
'Police on site say they are 'just doing a drill.' They are still in the gym, an hour and a half later. There is more to the story than an family argument,' added Jennifer Wood-Griffin.
James Castro said, 'I was wondering why there was a police presence when I dropped my nephew off.'
School officials said an external lockdown, requested by police, which officiallhy started at 9:45 a.m.. It was lifted. by 11:00 a.m.
Fiona Sutton posted on Facebook 'Thankful for swift action by OLHS & police. Based on texts from kids in the school, it was very scary for them. I'm aware of privacy laws, but this affects my child's safety. Seems like overkill to go through all that for a domestic issue. There has to be more to it. For now, I just want to hug my daughter.'
The principal said in one of two automated messages to parents that '... students taking SOL tests were not disrupted by the lockdown, and testing will not have to be re-administered. Students not taking SOL tests and who had a delayed start of school, followed testing protocol and were sent to the secured gymnasium to await the start of the regular school day.'
Moyers stressed there were no weapons involved in this incident and this was a domestic situation. The child was not injured and is ok.
As for concerns that students were being put into the gym, Moyers explained that students not taking the SOL testing arrive later and are required to respond to the gym. Every high school has a designated area and OLHS's area is the gym, she added.
First Alert Message from Ocean Lakes High School: (by 10:22 a.m.)
This is a message from Cheryl Askew, principal of Ocean Lakes High School.
I'm calling to let you know our school is currently on external lockdown at the request of the Virginia Beach Police Department. This was a proactive and preventative measure after police received information involving one of our students.
Police have located the student and are speaking with him now. Students taking SOL tests were not disrupted by the lockdown, and testing will not have to be re-administered.
Students not taking SOL tests and who had a delayed start of school, followed testing protocol and were sent to the secured gymnasium to await the start of the regular school day.
Let me assure you police and school administration worked closely together to ensure our students were safe at all times. I appreciate your continued support of Ocean lakes High School and will update you as necessary.
Second Alert Message from Ocean Lakes High School: (at 11:01 a.m.)
'This is Virginia Beach City Public Schools calling on behalf of Cheryl Askew, principal of Ocean Lakes High School, to let you know the external lockdown at Ocean Lakes High School has been lifted and the school operations are continuing as normal.
This school was placed on external lockdown as a precaution earlier today at the request of Virginia Beach Police, who were investigating a situation involving a student. As this was an ongoing police matter, school staff was not at liberty to share information with parents as quickly as we would have liked. We appreciate your patience; please know that everyone at Ocean Lakes High School and the Virginia Beach Police Department are committed to the safety and security of our students.
Thank you for your continued support of Ocean Lakes High School.'