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Stephenville student says being locked down Friday was 'terrifying'

An RCMP officer carrying a rifle in his hands watches traffic as students at Stephenville High School were being released following a threat and lockdown at the school Friday.
An RCMP officer carrying a rifle in his hands watches traffic as students at Stephenville High School were being released following a threat and lockdown at the school Friday. - Frank Gale

Julia Patten was writing an exam in the gymnasium at Stephenville High School when the lights went out.

The Level 3 student was one of a group of students who sat in the gym in the dark for a number of hours Friday afternoon as the school was put in lockdown.

With rifles on the ready, RCMP officers had a presence outside Stephenville High School while a threat and lockdown were in effect.
With rifles on the ready, RCMP officers had a presence outside Stephenville High School while a threat and lockdown were in effect.

“It was terrifying,” said the president of the school’s student council. “It was a long two and a half hours – really too long for comfort.”

Patten said nobody panicked and credited the teachers in the gym to keeping the students calm.

This was her first time for being in a lockdown for an extended of time, which made it real scary.

“I love our school but it’s definitely getting scarier,” she said. “Especially when we came out and seen the police with the big guns.”

Patten credited administrators at the school with doing well to keep the students safe and had a big thank you to the RCMP officers who made them feel safe when they were leaving.

Police were saying very little about the details of the lockdown at Stephenville High School following a threat received by school board officials.

The call was received in Corner Brook at about 1 p.m., according to a prepared release from police. While students were locked in their classrooms in the afternoon, police armed with rifles were outside the school.

Police said no students or staff members of Stephenville High were injured as a result of this incident. Police stayed at the scene until all students were released at about 3:30 p.m. from the school.

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Porter would not disclose the nature of the threat Friday afternoon and she wouldn’t say if any arrests had been made. At the Stephenville police station, officers were listening to an audio track of a male voice. It is unclear if the two are related.

At the scene both students and teachers leaving the school said they had no idea what the lockdown or threat was all about, only that it was a long afternoon in the classrooms.

Police said the investigation is continuing and are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Bay St. George RCMP at (709) 643-2118 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by web tip at www.nlcrimestoppers.com.

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