Photo by Andrew Richards
Roxana Community School Superintendent Debra Kreutztrager and Roxana Police Chief Will Cunningham field questions at a press conference Tuesday. The school was put in lockdown after a text message sent to a student’s family member reported there were shots fired at the school.
ROXANA – It only took one text message.
Roxana school officials, police responders from several village and city departments and many parents of the children and teens in the district were all seen surrounding Roxana Community School after a text message to a family member on Tuesday put the school on lockdown.
Roxana Police Chief Will Cunningham said the text message sent from the student’s phone stated there were gunshots fired at the high school.
“The student was found and it is confirmed that there were no shots fired,” he said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Many heard it was an April Fools’ prank, but Cunningham said that has not been confirmed.
“Obviously, this is not the direction to go,” Cunningham said in response to a question about students possibly pulling pranks to get out early. “This is a very serious incident. This is something that all local responders and school officials train for.”
Roxana Superintendent Debra Kreutztrager said she was thankful there was no real threat to students and staff.
“We were very pleased with the response from our local responders and our staff,” she said. “We will always look to improve” our response time.
Kreutztrager said the incident triggered responses from police departments from Roxana, Wood River, South Roxana, Hamel, Hartford, Bethalto, Madison County, Illinois State Police, Granite City and East Alton.
She said the district’s 940 students routinely train for situations like this.
“For some today, they most likely thought that we were in a drill situation because we go through the drill just like we would if there’s an actual alarm,” Kreutztrager said. “As usual, I know that with the response and the time, students realized we communicated with them on what the situation was today.”
Junior Erica Griggs, 16, said she was in the nurse’s office when the lockdown happened.
“I was in the back room of the nurse’s office getting checked out because I wasn’t feeling so well,” she said. “Around 1:10 p.m., there was a message over the intercom saying, ‘Lockdown’ like three times because that’s our main procedure.”
She said the nurse locked the doors and everybody remained still.
“We were all just talking really quietly, like whispering among ourselves, praying and hoping that this all just a drill because we haven’t had one in a while,” Griggs said. “That’s all we could really hope for until we found out it wasn’t a drill.”
Griggs, who sent frequent texts to her mother, Deana, updating her on the situation, said she was “terrified” and “very, very emotional” through it all.
She said she heard sounds in the school before the lockdown occurred but did not know if it was fireworks.
“It sounded like there was something. There were a lot of bangs in the school,” Griggs said.
Griggs said she did hear that there were three high school students in custody for the incident.
Cunningham later disavowed that rumor at the conference.
“We have at least one person of interest who the detectives are speaking with at this time,” he said.
Kreutztrager would not comment on if it was a junior high or high school student in question.