Lincoln Police investigating after finding loaded handgun at elementary school
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Police are currently investigating how a fifth grade Prescott Elementary School student got access to a loaded handgun after an officer found it in their backpack at school Friday.
Lincoln Public Schools superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman said a student approached a Prescott Elementary staff member around noon and reported another student had shown them a gun and made “concerning comments about violence” toward them.
Gausman said staff immediately took the backpack to the school’s office and called police, who found a loaded handgun inside.
“These professionals continue to build positive relationships and that’s really what kept us safe today,” Gausman said. “It was brave of that student to come forward and tell their teacher what they had seen.”
Gausman said when police arrived, both the students and their parents were interviewed by officers. Gausman said at this time, he couldn’t comment on how the child got their hands on the gun or what their motives were because the investigation is ongoing. He did say the student who brought the gun will face legal consequences.
Gausman said because the situation was handled within minutes, they didn’t have to use any of their Standard Response Protocols, meaning the school day wasn’t disrupted, though there was a police presence throughout the afternoon.
“I was really pleased as I walked into the building to see that every police officer who was there had a responsibility and they were engaging in that responsibility. And they responded exactly as we would want them to do,” Gausman said.
He said the staff are trained to handle these situations and they did exactly as they were trained to do with “poise and calm.”
“As many situations as I have been through, even in my nearly 20 years as a superintendent of schools, every situation is absolutely unique,” Gausman said. “And it has some different aspects to it. And in every situation you have, there’s some aspect of it that you couldn’t, you know, prepare for it necessarily. But in this particular case, the staff followed their training. And that training put everybody in that building in a safe position immediately. And it really was immediate. And it allowed us to continue that day.”
As far as next steps, Gausman said they’re going to be offering support to the student who reported the threat and any others in need. The district is also encouraging anyone who sees or hears anything concerning to come forward, whether that’s a student, staff member, parent or community member.
“Our students were safe at the end of the day today because of the relationships our staff members have with students and because a very brave student stepped forward and reported,” Gausman said. “Something they weren’t even positive about necessarily, something they had heard that was concerning. That’s what we’re asking people to do. You don’t have to verify it yourself. To report it you simply have to have heard it, please report it. We will follow through.”
There is a link at the LPS website to report concerns anonymously.
Gausman said at the end of the day, they’re just glad that student came forward and that the staff acted as they did.
“It’s because of that, that we’re having a far more pleasant conversation than we could today,” Gausman said. “No superintendent and no staff member, and no family wants to even talk about this subject. But truthfully, we’re able to have this specific conversation today, because we have plans in place, protocol that are there and they worked today, our staff members did what they should have done.”
Prescott Principal JJ Wilkins wrote to families in an email:
“We know this is concerning news to hear. We are very proud of the student who reported the safety concern to their teacher when they felt unsafe. It is the important work of our staff at Prescott in building trusting relationships with our students that lead to this serious situation being resolved without anyone being hurt. We are thankful for the quick response by Lincoln Police and their continued collaboration in keeping our students and staff safe.”
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