CENTRAL POINT — A handgun inadvertently left on a school employee's vehicle at Jewett Elementary School prompted the lockdown of some 540 students and an emergency response from local police Monday morning.
Central Point police Lt. Jeff Britton said a school employee had unknowingly driven to school with the unloaded gun placed on the outside of his or her vehicle. The car was parked near the school entrance Monday morning.
The resulting lockdown lasted from about 9:35 a.m. to almost 11 a.m. According to police, a second person had placed the weapon on the unidentified employee's vehicle.
"What happened was we were called to Jewett Elementary School for a report of found property and, when the officer got on scene, there was a handgun found at the entrance of the school property, apparently on somebody's car," Britton said.
"At that point, we didn't know if another gun could be on campus and we didn't know what we had so, for safety reasons, we put the school on lockdown."
Britton said all students were in their classrooms and safe with teachers. Police arrived within minutes and searched the school campus, inside and out.
Britton said the gun's owner and school employee were extensively interviewed and the gun was being held by police.
"The person who works for the school had no idea the gun was on the car and was shocked it even happened," Britton added.
"It wasn't loaded and there was no magazine in it."
Mike Meunier, Central Point School District director of human resources, said Jewett Elementary students were sent home with a letter to parents detailing the incident. Meunier said no students were ever in danger and that teachers and students responded to the lockdown as trained.
"It was nice to see that doing the planning and having some drills and having people know what's going on made for things going smoothly," Meunier said.
"As far as the Central Point Police, you couldn't get a better response. We had two classes out of the classroom on a science-related activity and when we announced the lockdown they went into the nearest classroom and everybody on campus was locked down within a minute with lights out, kids sitting along the walls and everyone quiet for close to an hour and a half."
Britton said the gun had not been returned to its owner and that police were investigating to determine if any charges would be filed.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.