Apparent hoax causes lock down of Hancock County school districts

Published 11:02 pm Friday, October 29, 2021

Sea Coast Echo Staff Report

Both the Hancock County and Bay-Waveland school districts went on a brief “lockdown” on Friday morning after a social media threat in the region.

Bay-Waveland Schools Superintendent Dr. Sandra Reed announced in a district-wide recorded phone call to parents that the district had gone on “lockdown” Friday morning.

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Joan Seals, public relations administrator for the Hancock County School District, said in a statement Friday that the district did a 20-minute “soft-lockdown” while the threat was investigated.

“Today, a neighboring school district received a call that a school shooting would happen today,” Seals said.  “As a precautionary measure, ALL Hancock County Schools moved to a soft lockdown for about 20 minutes until the lockdown was lifted. The safety of our students and employees are of utmost importance to us.”

Bay Waveland “put the schools into lockdown for 30 minutes,” Reed said, then transitioned to “shelter in place,” before finally determining the threat did not apply to the Bay-Waveland School District and returning to normal classes.

The difference between lockdown and shelter-in-place is that “lockdown doesn’t allow for any movement of any sort by the students,” while shelter-in-place means class continues as usual, but student’s movements are limited and no one is allowed to enter or exit the room, Reed said.

Bay St. Louis Police Chief Gary Ponthieux said it was determined Friday morning that the threat originated in Biloxi and applied to a school there.

The threat was issued on SnapChat, and said that there would be “gunfire” at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, with 20 students and four administrators shot. It is apparently a hoax that has made the rounds at several school districts around the country in recent days. Different people are apparently just putting the names of local schools on the text and resubmitting it.

Harrison Central High School was also put on lockdown Friday. Harrison County Sheriff’s officers are investigating.

Ponthieux said officers did respond to all the schools in the Bay-Waveland district during the lockdown.

The Sea Coast Echo will have more details as they become available.