MTPR

Handgun Magazine Leads To Lockdown At Missoula's Sentinel High School

Jan 14, 2019

A Missoula high school was placed on lockdown for about three-and-a-half hours Monday morning after a loaded handgun magazine was found in a school hallway.

Its companion firearm was not found with it.

Sentinel High School Principal, Ted Fuller, says the magazine was found at about 8 a.m. Monday.

Missoula County Public Schools spokeswoman, Hatton Littman, says administrators imposed the lockdown by 8:30 a.m.

“And then after the lockdown was initiated an investigation was started immediately.”

Sentinel High School in Missoula, Montana.
Credit Clare Menahan

Littman says that initial investigation included a visual search of every single school room.

“The details of which I’m not going to go into further at this point. I can let you know from a school perspective it absolutely involved asking students for any information they had, searches of the school and the locations where we might think something may be found.”

The lockdown kept Sentinel students in their first period classrooms and prevented anyone from entering or leaving the school until noon, when Littman says administrators decided to dismiss classes altogether.

“Once you go into a lockdown you have a choice to either lift the lockdown and have students continue on a normal school day, or dismissed from school. Based on the state of the investigation it was determined that the building needed to be cleared so a more comprehensive investigation could be completed."

Littman says Sentinel High faculty, staff and students were calm and orderly from the moment the lockdown was ordered to the early afternoon dismissal.

All Monday afternoon and evening activities were cancelled at the school.

Sentinel principal, Ted Fuller, says school officials have only a vague, general description of an individual who may have dropped the magazine this morning. Due to the ongoing investigation, Fuller did not offer specifics.

Because of extensive construction at the school, no closed circuit video footage is available.

A detailed room-by-room, locker-by-locker search later Monday turned up no further evidence of a weapon.

School officials have determined no active threats to Sentinel Staff and students.

The school will run on a normal schedule Tuesday with additional police officers in the building and extra patrols in the neighborhood.

The high school says it will will also offer support and counseling to any students or staff who need help processing the stress of Monday’s events.