Emmaus High School underwent a nearly four-hour lockdown on Oct. 29, holding students in classrooms after 50 22-caliber bullets were found scattered on the floor near the cafeteria just after breakfast, according to Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin.
Emmaus police and administrators swept the campus as students stayed in classrooms to ensure the school was safe until 11:15 a.m.
According to Martin, the bullets had been in a container. He was unsure if they had been dropped or thrown on the floor, or at what time it occurred.
But at this point, no arrests have been made, he said.
“I’m not sure any criminal charges would be [pressed] as a result of this,” Martin said in an interview. “It’s not illegal to possess bullets.”
Shortly after period one began, Principal David Piperato announced that the school would undergo an external threat lockdown, which requires teachers to require lock doors, turn off lights, and close blinds. Piperato said that all normal classroom instruction was to continue.
Students with late arrival privileges were sent to the auditorium, while others coming in late had to remain outside. Joining them outside were police, members of the media, and concerned parents, some of whom left work for over two hours, lining Macungie Avenue to see if they could pick up their children.
One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that at one point, a police officer spoke to her and the other parents regarding the situation, but “only… because parents stopped him.”
“[Administration should] let us know as much detail as possible so we don’t have to worry and freak out and be standing out here… nervous, frustrated, yelling at people ‘cause we don’t know if our kids are safe or not,” said the Alburtis mother of three who missed work due to concerns for her daughter’s safety.
At 10:30 a.m., Piperato announced that the school would dismiss at 11:15 a.m.. Students were not permitted to return to homeroom, their lockers, or any locker room in the school. Teachers, administrators, hall monitors, and police monitored them as they exited the building; as the approximately 2,000 students left, their personal bags were not searched. Once students were gone, school personnel searched lockers and classrooms before the building reopened for sports and theatre practices.
Speculation and rumors continued on throughout the day, even after dismissal. Students took to Twitter and other forms of social media to express concerns and opinions regarding the events of the day. Some rumors included this being a premeditated action, or one linked to an “incident last week in which a student allegedly made a threatening statement to some friends,” according to a press release issued by Dr. Michael Schilder, superintendent of schools. In his press release, Schilder confirmed that neither police nor administrators saw a connection between these two events.
Schilder announced in a separate press release that the building had been cleared at 2:30 p.m., that “all previously scheduled afternoon and evening events [would] take place,” and that “school will be in session on Friday, October 30, with an enhanced police presence as an additional precaution.”