A 17-year-old former student was arrested after he “threatened to shoot and blow up” Akins High School on Thursday, the Austin school district police chief said.
The teen, who up until two weeks ago had been a student, made threats in person at the school and on a school bus, interim Chief Chris Evoy said. Police seized a magazine and ammunition from him, but no gun, the chief said.
The reported threats led to an hours-long lockdown at the school. One Akins student said he spent four hours in a locker room which, for part of the time, was pitch-black. Students’ access to restrooms were limited for a couple of hours.
Parents began arriving in droves later in the day to pick up their children, even before officials shared details about the reasons for the lockdown with the public.
“There’s a line of parents in there who are upset,” parent Charlotte Koch said as she left the campus with her son.
Police have not yet named the former student but said more information would be released in the future. He is charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison, Evoy said.
The incident began about 8:45 a.m. when the teen boarded an Austin school bus carrying a backpack and made verbal threats, said Evoy.
The former student boarded the bus somewhere close to Akins, the chief said, but declined to say exactly where.
When the bus arrived at the school, he got off and again made threats that were overheard by several students, Akins Principal Brandi Hosack said in an email to parents. He showed a few students what appeared to be ammunition, then left Akins. A student reported the threats to Akins administrators, Hosack said.
The teen then left the school, and police found him around 10:25 a.m. at the Southpark Meadows strip mall in South Austin, Evoy said.
Just before noon, the school district said via Twitter that Akins parents could pick up students on the north end of campus, but school officials were only releasing ten students at a time. Parent Norma Zapata came to the school to pick her son up early around 2:30 p.m. She asked school employees what had caused the lockdown, and they told her they couldn’t share any information until an official statement was released.
The lockdown on the school was lifted at about 1:45 p.m., Evoy said.
Koch’s son, ninth-grader Troy Smith, said he spent nearly all morning in the school’s locker room while they were in lockdown mode. He was in the gym for P.E. around 9:30 a.m. when students were first told to stay put, he said.
“Then I guess they realized things were more serious than they thought, so they moved us into the locker room,” Smith said.
They stayed in the locker room for four hours, he said. For the first two hours the locker room was pitch black, and students weren’t allowed to use the restroom until later in the morning, he said.
School officials “said there was an intruder around the campus,” Smith said. “That was all they said. They didn’t say if he was armed or if he was in the building.”