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Police: 9th grader in custody after shooting threat

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    Jada Kitson/Columbia-Greene Media State police vehicles and a trooper outside of the Cairo-Durham Middle and High School after a lockdown was lifted.
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    Jada Kitson/Columbia-Greene Media Students leaving the Cairo-Durham High School on Tuesday.
February 27, 2018 01:41 pm Updated: February 27, 2018 07:23 pm

DURHAM — A ninth-grader at Cairo-Durham High School was taken into custody in connection with an alleged shooting threat that sent the school into a brief lockdown Tuesday afternoon, according to state police.

The boy, whose age was given as 15, was issued a family court appearance ticket at a later date, state police Senior Investigator Pete Kusminsky said Tuesday. The boy is being petitioned as a juvenile delinquent.

“If he was an adult, the charge would have been making a terroristic threat,” Kusminsky said.

Cairo-Durham High School was on lockdown for a short time Tuesday afternoon following a report of a possible shooting, police said.

“There was talk of a potential shooting, which we are currently investigating,” Kusminsky said. “There is no current threat to anybody at the school. We are currently sorting that out to find out what was said and to whom.”

The high school, on Route 145 in Durham, was on lockdown for about 30 minutes, Kusminsky said.

No gun was found on school grounds and the boy was unarmed when he was taken into custody, Kusminsky said Tuesday night. No shots had been fired.

The lockdown was lifted by 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, Cairo-Durham Superintendent Anthony Taibi said.

A student notified school administrators about the possible threat and the building was ordered into lockdown, Taibi said. Police responded to the school and made sure the building was secure before the lockdown was lifted.

“We remained in lockdown until we could ascertain exactly what was going on,” Taibi said. “Our process worked flawlessly as far as going into lockdown — everyone responded in a very timely manner, everyone followed the procedures and protocols that we drill constantly.”

“Especially with everything that went on in [Parkland] Florida, for it to happen at your school, it was kind of crazy,” said ninth-grader Alek Wagor as he was leaving the high school Tuesday afternoon.

“It was weird to know that there’s someone who could shoot you,” said Ryley Pierce, another ninth grader who said he knows the student accused of making the threat. “He said he was going to shoot the school, and had a list of names of people he wanted to shoot.”

Students or faculty members can alert school administrators of anything, Taibi said, adding potential threats can be reported in various ways.

“If there’s need to go into a lockdown, any staff member can call a lockdown using our intercom system,” he said. “When we go into a lockdown, it is not necessarily because it is the same situation that was occurring in [Parkland] Florida.”

The district’s discipline procedure will be enforced depending on the situation and what the investigation reveals about Tuesday’s potential threat, Taibi said.

“If there was anything said that was at the level of [having] a superintendent’s hearing a student would be brought to a superintendent’s hearing and consequences would be levied in that way,” Taibi said.

Tuesday was the first lockdown at Cairo-Durham in Taibi’s 12-year tenure with the district, but there have been prior lockouts, meaning school business in the building continues as normal, but activities outside the building cease immediately.

“Anything that’s outside the building is brought into the building,” Taibi said. “No one is in or out of the building.”

Preliminary information on Tuesday’s lockdown was posted on the school’s website to notify parents, Taibi said. He praised the students and school staff for responding quickly and following protocols.

Tamika Abrams, of Green Island, was at Cairo-Durham Elementary School to take school pictures with LifeTouch when she was informed of the lockdown at the high school and was told to return in two days. Situations like this and the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting worry Abrams.

“I’m scared because we go to different schools,” Abrams said of her profession.

Abrams has experienced a school lockdown on the job prior to Cairo-Durham’s.

“We were there for quite a while,” she said of her past experience.

“Our student and staff safety is our absolute No. 1 priority,” Taibi said. “Anytime any situation or information is brought to us, we’re going to jump to exactly what we need to do to make sure that everybody’s protected.”

Kate Lisa contributed to this story.