(WOONSOCKET, R.I.) — Live ammunition was discovered by a custodian in a Rhode Island middle school boys’ restroom, prompting a lockdown and subsequent investigation into how the bullets got there, police said.
Woonsocket Middle School at Hamlet, located about 15 miles north of Providence, was put on lockdown Friday afternoon after the discovery. Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas F. Oates III said a custodian was checking the restroom shortly around school dismissal time when she found small-caliber ammunition. She immediately brought it to the principal’s office.
Oates said fewer than 10 bullets were discovered.
Several news outlets reported that around the same time, a teenage girl said she saw a possible shooter but later recanted her story. The Providence Journal reported the girl was overheard by a teacher saying she saw someone on a footbridge reaching into a backpack. That also prompted the lockdown.
“Someone in a group of children that was walking, leaving, a female began to scream … alluding to there may be a shooting,” Oates told WPRI-TV.
Most students had already left the school as police conducted a room-by-room search. Oates estimated there were fewer than 50 people inside the school during the lockdown. Most were there for after-school activities.
Officers could be seen around the school, including on the roof, wearing tactical gear and with their guns drawn.
“We did not find any weapons in the school. We did not find any weapons on anyone else,” Oates told WPRI-TV.
A parent, Laura Beauregard, told the television station that she learned about the lockdown on social media and drove to the school, where her daughter was attending a photography club meeting. She discovered her daughter outside the school with some fellow students.
“With just what happened in Florida, they were really scared,” said Beauregard, referring to Wednesday’s mass shooting a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.
Oates said officers questioned the student who made the comment about a possible shooter and will determine whether she should be charged with a crime. Police are also still investigating who brought the bullets into the school.