homepage logo

Gulf Elementary addressing students’ false gunman report

By Staff | Mar 20, 2010

One day after a false report of a man with a gun on campus sent Gulf Elementary into lock down, administrators at the school and district officials said the handful of students involved in the incident are being disciplined.
The school was under lock down for approximately two hours and no one was injured.
“It was false report by a couple of students,” said Principal Donnie Hopper. “I don’t believe there was really any reason for it. They were talking about a situation and it just kind of spiraled into them telling adults, and they stuck with their story.”
Hopper said one student falsely reported the gunman, but a few others were also involved.
“We issued appropriate consequences as it pertains to the code of conduct,” he said.
Staff at the school carried out a “code red” flawlessly, he said, and the school was complimented by responding police officers. Parents with children at Gulf Elementary also thanked Hopper for doing everything necessary to keep the students safe.
“They appreciated the actions we took because you never know in this day of age,” said Hopper.
The school district couldn’t release any further information on how the students were disciplined.
“Staff will follow all established district procedures and policies,” said spokesperson Joe Donzelli. “I can’t provide you with any specifics on what discipline is going to be given as that information is considered part of the student record and exempt from public disclosure.”
Cape Coral police had received the call about a suspicious person in the building at about 1:30 p.m., according to officials. A student had reported seeing a man leave a bathroom with a gun in his possession.
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, though, had cleared the school and determined the building was safe. Officials reported that there was a “strong indication” that the child’s statement was false.
Capt. Tim Rivers reported that there were no reported injures.
“You’ve always have 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,” Petrovich added.
Students were released on time at the end of the regular school day, much to the relief of parents.
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 schools 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 to 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.