A lockdown was initiated at the JFK Middle School in Northampton after receiving a report of a man with a gun in the school’s parking lot.
Northampton police Chief Jody Kasper and Public Schools Superintendent John Provost both released a statement on Facebook saying the school initiated the lockdown after police received a call of a man with a gun in the parking lot of the school located at 100 Bridge Road around 2:10 p.m.
Chief Kasper said a JFK Middle School employee spotted the man at the school’s rear parking lot, just before dismissal time. The campus immediately went into lockdown, and the first officer arrived within a minute.
Northampton police said when police got there, they found a man sitting on the ground next to his vehicle. The car was backed into a parking space with the trunk open.
Police recovered two air rifles and took the man into custody, according to the Northampton police Facebook page. The school district sent out robocalls to parents alerting them to the lockdown and delayed dismissal.
Parents gathered nearby, worrying, and waiting for their kids. The district’s other schools all went into lockdown, shelter in place, or controlled release for schools already out for the day.
“My first thought honestly was a shooting, because it’s honestly become more common that we’ve seen,” said Jenna Rodriguez, a parent. “So that was my first thought, and hoping that wasn’t going on.”
Northampton police posted on Facebook that all students were safe and no injuries were reported.
State Police and every available officer descended on the Northampton campus, requiring Easthampton police to be called in for mutual aid to cover the city. The district’s superintendent said the lockdown procedures were followed seamlessly.
“The students and the staff did an excellent job exercises the procedures we drill on time and time again year after year,” Superintendent Provost told 22News. “I’m extremely grateful to the Northampton police and State Police for their strong response to this.”
The lockdown was lifted, and dismissal began, with students boarding busses more than an hour later than usual.
Police could not say if the suspect has any history with the police department, or if he had any connection to the school.
According to a news release sent to 22News from the Pioneer Valley Students for Gun Control on Thursday, Northampton students will be wearing black to school Friday to serve as a visual representation of their unity after a traumatic event and to also show they’re not done fighting for stronger gun safety laws.