Tips warned student had gun; no weapons found

ARKPORT — Arkport Central School was placed on lockdown Thursday following false reports of a student with a weapon.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m., law enforcement responded to Arkport Central School to check if a student brought a weapon to school, according to scanner traffic.

The student was located inside the school, isolated until law enforcement arrived, and was questioned by a Steuben County Mental Health team. It was determined that there was no weapon or credible threat. The sheriff's office declined to comment further about the status of the student who was questioned.

According to Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard, two anonymous tips were made to the sheriff's office within five minutes of each other on Thursday morning, alleging that a student had a gun, and intended to use it during the school's annual field day events.

The school was immediately placed on lockdown. Shades in all classrooms were drawn closed, hallways cleared and K-9 units from several different agencies, including as far away as Ontario County, searched the entire grounds.

Parents began to gather outside of the school seeking information, some in tears, fearing the worst. Students told to shelter in place sent text messages to their parents on the outside with varied reports coming from within.

Details were scant prior to the 10 a.m. hour, but Superintendent Jesse Harper did state that the school was in lockdown "due to a received threat." He did not say whether a weapon was present in the school.

The District released the following statement at that time:

"Arkport Central School was placed on lockdown at approximately 8:30 a.m. today (May 24) after receiving a report from the Steuben County Sheriff's Department about a student possibly having a weapon.

"All students and staff are safe and unharmed. The lockdown was downgraded to a 'hold in place' around 9:30 a.m. That means students will remain confined to classrooms until further notice. New York State Police and sheriff's deputies are on the scene."

Students leaving the school stated that they huddled on the floor for upwards of three hours.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. students who had appointments scheduled were being released, while others returned to regularly scheduled activities.

A joint statement was set to be issued by the school and the Steuben County Sheriff's Office.

Harper thanked law enforcement for ensuring student and staff safety and for the patience of parents seeking information during the day.

"Thank you to everyone in the community who responded to today’s events with patience and cooperation as we navigated necessary protocols to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff," Harper said.

Added Sheriff Allard, "The communication and cooperation worked flawlessly between law enforcement and the district. We are thankful for the support of the New York State Police and the community in this investigation and are grateful that all members of the Arkport community are safe and well."

Responding to the incident were units from the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office, North Hornell Police, New York State Police, Ontario County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit and a Department of Environmental Conservation Officer.