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Parents, officials relieved school gunman story proved false

By Staff | Mar 18, 2010

Gulf Elementary was locked down for about one hour Thursday after a student reported – falsely, as it turned out – seeing an armed man in the school.
At about 1:30 p.m. Cape Coral police received a call about a suspicious person in the building, according to officials. A student reported seeing a man leave a bathroom with a gun in his possession.
In response, authorities locked down the school at 3400 S.W. 17th Place. It was later discovered the child had made the story up about the man.
“It was a bogus report,” Cape police Cpl. P.T. Barnum said.
Police cleared the building and determined the building was safe. Officials reported that there was a “strong indication” that the child’s statement was false. It took about one hour for the authorities to lift the school’s
lockdown status and return the school to its normal operations.
Capt. Tim Rivers reported that there were no reported injures.
“You’ve always got to take those things seriouslY” Cape Police Chief Rob Petrovich said of the child’s claim, regardless that it turned out to be false. “Be glad that’s all that it was.”
He explained that police have to approach every report as a “worst case scenario” to avoid being unprepared for those times when the report turns out to be true.
“(We’re) thankful it was a false report,²”Petrovich added.
Students were released on time at the end of the regular school day.
Mother Susan Frigo hurried over to Gulf Elementary after learning of the situation Thursday. He daughter, Hannah, is a fifth-grader at the school.
She said her first thought on hearing about the school’s lockdown was “to get up here and get my kid.”
“You always hear about these things on the news, but it never hits this close to home,” Frigo said.
After learning it was a false report, she felt a little more at ease.
“But I still want my child. I want her home with me,” Frigo said.
Parent Jim Ross was also present outside the school, waiting for updates.
His son, Kasey, is a third-grader at Gulf Elementary and his daughter, Louie, is a sophomore at Ida S. Baker High School. Both were at their school during the lockdown.
Ross said he kept an eye out for the alleged gunman as he drove to the elementary school. His thoughts at first were that the person was some disgruntled parent.
“I thought, I’m going find the guy running out … I’m going have to tackle him,” he said.
After learning the report came from a child, Ross felt better because he knew there was a possibility that the child might not be telling the truth.
“It kind of eased my mind,” he said.
According to Petrovich, any disciplinary action regarding the child will be between the family and the Lee County School District. He noted that the child is only about 9 years old.