‘‘We’re all basically pretty scared because there’s some guy running around with a gun.’’
Police are investigating links between two armed callouts in Stratford after the high school was put into lockdown following reports of a gun toting man on its grounds.
Armed police surrounded the Taranaki school about 8.20am on Thursday morning, stopping people coming in or out for three hours, following the report of the armed man.
Children and teachers were forced to stay inside classrooms while officers and police dogs searched the area. No offender was located. Police are currently investigating links between this incident and another on Tuesday night when a report of an armed man scrambled police on a fruitless search in Stratford.
Sergeant Andrew Russ confirmed the offender had not been located in the search of the high school but said inquiries were ongoing.
‘‘We’ve searched the entire school, every single room, everything in it and we haven’t been able to find anyone at all matching the description he initially gave us,’’ Russ said.
‘‘We are still investigating it really, we are still looking into it. There’s many possibilities with this and it will just take time to work through in the coming days.’’
At the school on Thursday morning anxious parents and relatives lined the streets at the cordons patiently waiting for news from their loved ones.
There were group hugs and tears shed when cordons were cleared and the lockdown was lifted about 11.20am.
Parent Nikki Hall said she was overcome with emotion to see her 14-year-old daughter.
‘‘I just cried and held her in my arms,’’ she said.
Hall had been waiting at the cordon’s edge since hearing about the lockdown.
‘‘We’re all basically pretty scared because there’s some guy running around with a gun,’’ she said earlier in the day.
Kelsi Bailey, 16, said she had just walked into the school grounds when she heard there was a gunman.
‘‘I was scared but then I just calmed down.
‘‘It was definitely a shock.’’
Bailey said an armed police officer checked the classroom where they were.
‘‘He told us to get down and stay quiet.’’
Tama Smallman said he was relieved to see his mother, Rochelle Gutsell, after the ordeal.
The 13-year-old and a group of his friends had just got to school as the armed police converged on the scene.
He said they were ushered into a classroom by a teacher. ‘‘She said to be quiet.
‘‘She said there’s a gunman in the school grounds.’’
Smallman said students were worried.
‘‘Most of them were shaking.’’ Gutsell said it had been frightening for parents who had not been able to contact their children.
‘‘The hardest part for me was just standing there not knowing much about what was going on,’’ she said.
Carol Burroughs said her 16-yearold son Isaac and 14-year-old son John had just arrived at the school on the bus when police responded to reports of a gunman.
‘‘I just raced in from Midhirst. ‘‘It’s kinda scary really.’’ Burroughs had received a text from Isaac saying he and John was safe but he didn’t know when they would be able to leave, she said.
The school had posted on its Facebook page letting parents know their children would not be able to contact them until the lockdown had ended.
Stratford High School principal Philip Keenan said students were calm and cooperative during the incident, and the school’s lockdown processes were effective.
‘‘Students who had arrived to school were accompanied by staff and quickly moved into safe areas within the school. Students who were arriving to school were diverted either to home or to a supervised safe location.’’
‘‘The school values the positive respect they received from the community and appreciates their ongoing support to students and staff. Additional supports will be available to the school community,’’ Keenan said.
He said nobody was physically injured and school would be back to normal today.
Reports of a gunman saw police surround Stratford High School.
Stratford High School went into lockdown.
Police searched the school thoroughly.