Police give ‘all clear’ after Southampton High lockdown

Published 12:00 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

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Southampton County Public Schools announced shortly before 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, that law enforcement had issued an “all clear” at Southampton High School after investigating the reported possibility of a weapon and contraband on campus, which had led to a lockdown of the school beginning in the morning.

Gwendolyn P. Shannon

In the afternoon phone message to students, staff and community members, SCPS Superintendent Dr. Gwendolyn P. Shannon said, “This morning it was brought to my attention that the administration of Southampton High School was made aware that a student may have a weapon and drugs on campus. We instituted a lockdown, and the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, Isle of Wight (County) Sheriff’s Office, Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police and canine officers searched the building.”

She and local law enforcement confirmed that no weapon or drugs were found as a result of the search, leading to the “all clear.”

“Southampton High School is no longer on lockdown, and students have resumed their daily activities,” she said. 

In a Southampton County Sheriff’s Office press release, Maj. Camden Cobb, chief deputy for the office, stated that a student was questioned in regard to the incident. 

“Detectives will work with the Southampton County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to determine if any violations of law have occurred and if charges are appropriate,” he added. 

Shannon thanked students, parents and staff for their cooperation. 

“I’m also grateful to the community for standing with our school division during this time,” she said.

Lastly, she conveyed her appreciation for the school administration and then for each responding law enforcement agency, highlighting their diligence and thoroughness.

“They left no stone unturned while searching for the weapon and drugs,” she said. 

Cobb also communicated the sheriff’s office’s thanks to school administration, staff and the other law enforcement agencies.

Shannon said, “As always, the safety of our students and community is paramount. We will remain vigilant in doing all within our power to keep students and staff out of harm’s way.”

She noted that the approach of school administration to matters of concern, like a possible weapon or contraband at school, remains as follows — see something, say something. 

She asked that if anyone has any information about the Dec. 9 incident, they should contact the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office at 757-653-2100, Southampton High School at 757-653-2751 or the Southampton County School Board Office at 757-653-2692.

“Again, thank you all so much for your cooperation today, and we are very happy that no weapon or drugs were found,” she said.

On Friday, Dec. 10, school administration and local law enforcement briefly investigated a threat made on social media that proved to not be against a local school.

In a brief Friday voice message, Shannon said, “This morning, a student shared a social media post from Courtland, New York, that included a threat. Our sheriff’s office collaborated with the authorities in that locality. The authorities in Courtland, New York, found the source of the threat. Their state marshals and state police assisted with their investigation. The threat was deemed non-credible and unsubstantiated.

“Since the threat was not made toward our schools and it was deemed non-credible and unsubstantiated, we will remain in school today,” she continued. “Nevertheless, we will also have increased police presence in our schools today for added safety and peace of mind.”

After reiterating the importance of the “see something, say something” approach, she issued a special thanks to the student who reported the threat to school administration.

William Worsham

During the Southampton County School Board meeting Dec. 13, board member William Worsham advocated strongly for including emergency planning operations in in-service professional development sessions, possibly multiple times a year, so every employee of the school system knows exactly what to do when an emergency arises.

He said he thought the situation at the high school on Thursday was handled quite well.

“This time we were very fortunate in that we had people in the know who knew exactly what to do, and they did what they were supposed to do,” he said.

He noted he simply wants to make sure every Southampton County Public Schools employee is at that level of readiness, working a plan that is streamlined but effective.

“I’d like to see us commit to some type of review, study, whatever you want to call it, where we look at that emergency plan — and we’ve got a good one — and see if we can’t bring everybody up to the point where they can act immediately when something happens,” he said. “I’m sure that there’s some out there that don’t know exactly what to do, and they’re the ones we need to bring into the fold.”