Fear grips West Valley school after reports of man with gun

A school in West Valley City was placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon after a report of a man with a gun. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Richard Trelles

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, Feb. 9, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — A school in West Valley City was placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon after a report of a man with a gun outside.

American Preparatory Academy, at 1255 W. Crystal Ave. (2590 South), was placed on lockdown at approximately 4:30 p.m. after a man carrying a gun was reportedly seen just east of the school, WVC Police Chief Lee Russo told Gephardt Daily.

“It was observed by a teacher and several students,” Russo said. “Because of the suspicious activity in the close proximity of the school, [school officials] quickly reacted, pulled the students back into the school, and locked the school down, notified the police and we responded.”

Russo said a number of students along with the teacher and some people in the area described to police the individual was about 5-feet-6-inches tall, in jeans and a darker shirt, potentially carrying a long weapon.

“We don’t have any information now on any kind of direction of travel, other than they saw him along the eastward perimeter of the school,” Russo said. “We have been searching through the area. With the school locked down, our first priority was to make sure the children were safe. We have now reunited the majority of the children with their parents, and moved the children from the school. We have searched the school with our K-9s and our officers to make sure there is no threat inside the school.”

Officers continued to check the surrounding neighborhoods into the night and asked anyone in the area who may have seen something suspicious on Crystal Avenue or along the UTA TRAX line that runs just south of that location to let the police know.

“The best way to handle this is to treat it as if it’s real. We hope there is a plausible explanation, but if not, we’re prepared to deal with it, that’s the safest way to handle something like this.”

Police will be sending updates to school administration throughout the evening to keep them abreast of the situation, so the school can keep parents informed.

A student at the academy, who is 13 and in eighth grade, described through tears how she was in an after-school class when it was announced over the intercom that a lockdown was going into place. After being reunited with her mom outside the school, she told Gephardt Daily: “We thought it was just a drill; we didn’t know it was real. The principal told us there were some kids out there and while they were playing outside they saw someone in the neighborhood with a gun, they said they got worried, so they called the cops and now they’re investigating everywhere. I felt scared, I tried to calm down. I’m relieved that I managed to come out alive and nothing happened to me or my mom.”

Officers from multiple agencies responded to the scene, including the Unified Police Department, the Salt Lake City Police Department and Fire Department, and the Utah Highway Patrol.

Anyone with information is asked to call WVCPD at 801-840-4000.


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