DORA — Schools in east Walker County were placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon as law enforcement personnel searched for an individual allegedly carrying a rifle. However, authorities ultimately …
DORA — Schools in east Walker County were placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon as law enforcement personnel searched for an individual allegedly carrying a rifle. However, authorities ultimately did not locate such an individual and cleared the schools to resume their normal routines.
Dora High, Sumiton Elementary, Sumiton Middle and Sumiton Christian schools, along with the Sumiton campus of Bevill State Community College, were placed on lockdown around around 12:30 p.m. after the Dora Police Department was notified about an individual walking around near the high school with a rifle.
According to a statement posted to the Dora Police Department's Facebook page, a Dora officer was flagged down around 11:47 a.m. by a motorist near the Jet Pep who then told the officer that he had see a white male subject wearing camouflage clothing and a black hat, as well as carrying an AK type rifle.
The statement adds that the motorist stated he last observed the subject walking up the power line area from the walking track toward Aldersgate United Methodist Church and Dora High School. Dora police were unable to locate a subject matching that description.
However, the police department notified both the high school and church, and the buildings immediately went into lockdown.
Members of the Dora and Sumiton police departments and the Walker County Sheriff's Office set up a perimeter, and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office K-9 was called in to assist with the search. However, after investigating and tracking the area, no threats were found.
After the schools were initially placed on lockdown, Sumiton Police Department Communications and Corrections Supervisor Nick Key said that there was no immediate threat to the schools in Sumiton. Dora Police Chief Jared Hall stressed that the lockdown of Dora was only a precautionary measure.
The lockdown was lifted just before 2 p.m.
Dr. Jason Adkins, superintendent of Walker County Schools, said he was impressed with how quickly Sumiton and Dora police responded to the situation.
"I'm proud of the way school administrators handled" the situation, Adkins said. "If it was a legitimate threat, the perpetrator didn't approach the schools in any way, form or fashion. ... Nobody was ever found."
He added that police responded to the school quickly and that students knew and followed the proper procedures.
"I am thankful that what could have been a very dangerous situation was diffused by putting safety plans into practice," said Dora High School principal Paige Abner. "We are so thankful for the Dora Police Department that was on-scene within minutes of [being alerted]. ... The teachers were instrumental in the execution of the safety plan and our students cooperated as expected."
Hall thanked all the agencies that assisted in the search and investigation.
He also added, "I would like to say that Dora High School did a fantastic job helping to ensure the safety of students and faculty by promptly handling the situation."