Pellet Gun Leads To School Lockdown

Quick-thinking students defuse potentially dangerous situation

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A potentially volatile situation came to an anticlimactic end, in great part due to the actions of alert students, at Payson Elementary School Wednesday.

Around lunchtime, students went to school administrators and said they had seen a man carrying a gun and riding a bicycle back and forth near the playground of the school.

"They said they saw a young person who had a firearm off campus, but they came in and reported it to the school," Principal Will Dunman said.

"Then another group of students came in thereafter and said they had seen a person in Panther Park."

Dunman said at that point, he made the decision to put the school into lockdown.

"We called for all the students to come in, in an un-scary fashion, then our resource officer, Dave Vaughn, locked all the doors and the police were called," Dunman said.

He said the quick actions and accurate description provided by students about the individual in question aided police in finding the person quickly and allowed them to defuse a situation that could have come to a much different conclusion.

"From the description that the students gave us, which was to a "T", I recognized who the young man was and the police department came and visited with him and we got the story of what happened," Dunman said.

Dunman said that after interviewing the individual and examining the firearm, police were able to determine that it was an air pellet gun he had been carrying.

"I asked them if they felt like they were in any danger and they said, ‘No, it was that way' indicating he had pointed the pellet gun into the distance away from them," he said.

"They (students) did see something that looked like a firearm, which was actually a soft air pellet gun, but it still looks like a firearm and that's what they gave us," he said.

Dunman said he was proud of his students.

"They were right on, they knew exactly what to do and what they were telling us, and so we're very proud of them," he said.

A letter was sent home to parents Thursday explaining the incident. Dunman said a follow-up letter would be sent to parents today to offer all the details the school has on the situation.

Dunman was en route from a meeting at the district office at the time of the incident, but said police responded quickly.

"When I came back, they (police) were already along the road searching for the individual, according to the description the kids had given us," Dunman said.

He said the individual, after being advised by police not to carry any kind of weapon near school grounds, came in after school ended and apologized for his actions.

"We're glad that it all worked out well," Dunman said.

Police had not released the name or age of the person with the pellet gun and no charges have been filed at the time this story went to press.

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