Quick Actions, Accurate Information, Helped Community Understand School Incident

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The Payson Unified School District faced a potentially serious situation head-on last Wednesday, and administrators' quick action and dedication to protecting our kids kept a volatile situation contained.

The community owes a debt of thanks to school administrators and law enforcement officials and especially to students at the high school for their clear-headed, precise response in reporting that they saw a student on the campus of Payson High School with what appeared to be a gun.

Students at the school went against the grain when they saw what they thought was a handgun in the hands of another student and immediately went to school officials and informed them.

The handgun they saw, fortunately, turned out to be a pellet gun, but if the knee-jerk reaction here is to laugh it off as something that turned out to be insignificant, let us not forget that it could have turned out much differently, had the pellet gun indeed been a deadly weapon.

Clearly students, as well as law enforcement and school officials, responded appropriately to the situation.

As many in the community have already heard, on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at about 8:30 a.m., students at Payson High School told school officials that they saw another student with a handgun by the old gym.

Both police and school officials acted immediately.

District Superintendent Casey O'Brien placed the entire district into a precautionary lockdown while police searched the high school campus and surrounding area.

Nearly two hours after the student was reported to have a gun, police arrested a male juvenile suspect.

Police apprehended the suspect quickly, but at first, couldn't locate the weapon.

When police were unable to find the pellet gun, another student bravely disregarded unspoken peer pressure rules of conduct and told police that they should look for the gun in a car belonging to a friend of the suspect.

After searching the car, police found the pellet gun and confiscated it.

Both Payson police and the school district went a further step and, during the search for the suspect, kept the Roundup informed about events, so we could get information out to the community as quickly as possible.

Wednesday's incident was particularly stressful for everyone involved.

O'Brien made it a point to speak to the Roundup by cell phone from the scene, as events took place.

The Roundup would like to commend all of the agencies involved, for both catching the suspect and getting information out to the public so quickly.

This accurate information, in turn, let us put a story about the situation on our Web site shortly after the incident was reported, to inform residents what was taking place.

Openness in government is one of the key principles on which the United States was founded; the people's right to know about important events affecting them in a timely manner.

As a result, everyone benefits from such openness and the Roundup appreciates the candid and prompt delivery of accurate information from all the agencies and people involved in the skillful handling of a potentially dangerous situation.

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