Schools Briefly Go On Lockdown After Man Seen Carrying A Gun

Payson High School campus

Photo by Andy Towle. |

Payson High School campus


Payson High School and Rim Country Middle School were briefly put on lockdown Tuesday morning after a district employee spotted a man walking on campus with a gun.

Police responded and halfway through their search discovered the man was a probation officer dressed in plain clothes on campus to give a talk to a class, said Police Chief Don Engler.

The probation officer reportedly overheard the radio traffic between officers and recognized the description of the suspect as himself.

Both schools have since been reopened.

Engler said although it was a false alarm, they were happy the employee called.

“That is exactly what we want them to do” whenever they spot something, he said.


Pat Randall 2 years, 11 months ago

Wouldn't it have been better if the employees knew when an officer was coming on to the school grounds with a gun? This could have turned into a disaster if the employee had a gun and reacted differently? He may have drawn his gun and been shot by the officer or shot the officer.


Pat Randall 2 years, 11 months ago

Hit the button to soon. I thought the schools were fenced. This is another reason for closed campus at schools. Take down the poles and get video cameras on the school grounds, and gates so the entrance can be watched and an employee can let people in. In this cold weather seems the officer would have had a coat on that covered his gun. Why did he need a gun on anyway?


H. Wm. Rhea III 2 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Pat. Someone should've been notified that he was coming, especially school admins, who, knowing he would be carrying, should've met him at the gate and escorted him to his speaking assignment. Also, don't the police get notified in advance when there is an officer, police or probation, going on the campus anyway?


David Vaughn 2 years, 11 months ago

Pat, yes to your comment about notifying Staff when an armed guest is arriving at school, so long as the weaponry is part of their daily uniform. This should be a practice at all school sites, as well as a clothing description of the guest. The guest speaker normally wouldn't mingle with the students in general congregation areas either, unless the person has a child at the site and receives permission to have lunch with him/her.

Probation / Parole Officer's are routinely armed as part of their daily duties. Most of the Gila County PO's I associated with wore outer body armor vests, which bore large PROBATION markings on the vests, making them easily identifiable.

Reference the cameras, I had a direct feed to my school computer. Without these useful tools, we wouldn't have been able to solve as many cases as we did. Cameras work 24/7, and not all crime occurs during business hours.

Will, in a word, no. I have had guest lecturer's from several law enforcement agencies around the State show up at either the middle or high schools on Career Day. These individuals would bring differing armament for the class to view, not touch.

While patrolling a school campus prior to the start of classes, I happened upon an Officer / Agent walking on campus towards a classroom, for Career Day. He was in uniform, armed, and carrying several locked rifle cases. As I walked with him, I noted he had a proper guest pass affixed to his uniform and learned which class he would be in for the following hour.

I requested if he is sought out by any other school in the state to do something similar, to be mindful of either the SRO on campus or the local law enforcement agency, by giving notification of his arrival. It's all about respect.

I also requested the school notify the SRO of an armed guest in the future, to defray any tense moments, or inquiries by concerned parents. Once I learned of an armed person scheduled to be on campus on a certain date/time, I would notify that school site via e-mail and post in key locations where staff mingled.


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