Southampton Middle School on lockdown

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, January 11, 2024

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UPDATE: The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office issued the following update at 12:49 p.m.: The search of the school has ended. No firearms were located.

The Southampton County Sheriff’s Office stated in a noon news release Thursday, Jan. 11, that it was notified by Southampton County Public Schools officials that a student at Southampton Middle School had reported to school staff that they thought they heard another student say they had a gun.

School administrators alerted the sheriff’s office, and SCPS personnel immediately responded to assist and begin a thorough search of the building. The school has been placed in a lockdown status. 

This incident began shortly before 10:30 a.m. today.

The student who heard the comment about the gun has since made the statement that they are not sure of exactly what they heard the other student say.  

Will Melbye, with SCPS, conveyed a phone message Thursday morning to parents with children at SMS, letting them know of the situation.

“This morning we are calling you, as Southampton County Middle School parents, to let you know that currently SMS is under a lockdown as a measure of caution,” he said. “This action follows an incident where a student who has hearing difficulties reported uncertainty over whether they heard another student mention having either ‘a gun’ or having ‘gum.’

“We have taken the precautionary step of this lockdown and other measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our students and staff,” he continued. “Our school is in active collaboration with Southampton County Sheriff’s Office. Southampton County’s security supervisor, school division administration and the superintendent conduct a thorough investigation in this situation.

“We understand the importance of keeping you informed and will provide updates as soon as more information becomes available,” he said. “We appreciate your patience and understanding during this ongoing lockdown and investigation.

“Parents, you will not be able to get your child out of Southampton Middle School during this lockdown,” he said. “Again, thank you for your patience and understanding.”

The sheriff’s office’s news release noted that at the time of the release, there were multiple K-9 units at the school and law enforcement personnel from Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin Police Department, Virginia State Police, Courtland Police Department, Portsmouth Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The sheriff’s office and school staff will continue to investigate this incident,” sheriff’s office officials stated. “There are currently no reports that anyone has seen a firearm or that any students or staff have been harmed in any way.”