Students are allowed to reenter Stephenson High School after a report of a gun on a school bus prompted a lockdown Tuesday morning. The school will remain on a low-level lockdown and police will stay on scene through the end of the school day, school district officials said.
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Juvenile arrested after gun scare, lockdown at Stephenson High School

A juvenile was arrested in connection with a gun scare that prompted a Level 3 lockdown at Stephenson High School, a DeKalb County School District spokeswoman said.

Details about the suspect and the charges against him have not been released.

“The investigation remains ongoing,” district spokeswoman Portia Kirkland said in a statement. “The district will provide updates as they are made available.”

The arrest was announced hours after officers burst into classrooms Tuesday morning with guns drawn after a Stephenson student reported seeing an armed classmate.

That triggered a massive police presence, road closures and the Level 3 lockdown at the school on Stephenson Road in Stone Mountain. A Level 3 is the strictest of DeKalb County’s lockdown procedures and is typically reserved for immediate threats.

The incident occurred a little more than one week after the start of the new school year.

According to district police Chief Bradley Gober, a student told officials she noticed the classmate get on and off a school bus with a gun. A sweep of the campus came up empty and there was no student found with a weapon, he said.

DeKalb County police were assisting DeKalb County School District police at Stephenson High School on Tuesday morning after a student reported seeing a classmate with a gun. 
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Students who evacuated were eventually allowed to reenter the building, and blocked roads were reopened about 10:30 a.m. 

The lack of information from district officials, however, sent panicked parents to Stephenson to check on their children.

The building was reopened about 10:30 a.m. Parents gathered outside the school waiting to hear information from school and police officials. 
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Vernon Comer said he got a text from his daughter, Elizabeth Comer, an 11th grader, who told him that school officials said a "person brought a gun to school."

"I (am) just waiting to hear something official," Comer said as he stood outside the school. "My daughter keeps texting me."

Savi'on Brooks-Auburt, a senior, said he and his classmates assumed it was a drill until officers burst into their classroom with guns drawn. Several scenarios ran through the 17-year-old’s head. A drug search. A shooter.

When information was scarce, he had to get his emotions under control, he said. 

“First, I had to pray,” he said. “I just prayed about it, and then I had to let it be in his hands and go about the day.”


 

Latrish Butler works security at a local Publix. When her daughter, Jeanne Umbra, a senior, called and whispered she was hiding in a locked classroom, Butler walked her through the ordeal. 

They stayed on the phone for 35 minutes, one whispering encouragement and the other reporting every sound and movement in the hall. Umbra was leaving the counselor’s office when the lockdown started, she said, but she knew protocol was to find a classroom and stay there. 

“You have to just go to the back, sit on the floor, and be quiet,” she said. “... We have a lot of drills. This was the actual real one.”


 

In a statement, a school district official said all students and faculty are safe. 

“DCSD Police Officers and DeKalb County police are on-site and will remain on campus,” Kirkland said. “The school has been swept and the building is safe. The school will be on Level 1 lockdown out of an abundance of caution and students will resume their normal schedule.”

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