Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:40 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, to include additional information.
A false report of a gun at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on Wednesday morning, which put the school on lockdown for about an hour, resulted from a rumor among students, according to a Montgomery County Public Schools official.
County police posted on Twitter around 10:30 a.m. that there was a report of a gun on the Bethesda campus and the school was in lockdown as of 10 a.m. Police were investigating the “validity” of the report, authorities said at the time.
Chris Cram, an MCPS spokesman, wrote in a text message to Bethesda Beat that a student thought he saw a weapon. Police investigated and found no weapon and no threat to the school, Cram said.
The lockdown was lifted just after 11 a.m. and students were released, in alignment with the day’s previously scheduled early release.
In the minutes before the lockdown was lifted, parents gathered anxiously outside the school waiting for news from their children.
Veronica Suleiman, a parent of a freshman and a junior, said she was at home getting ready to start work when she heard about the lockdown.
“….I get a text from my daughter who’s a junior here that they’re in lockdown. And I said, ‘What? Really?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on,’ ” Suleiman said.
Suleiman called the school and then 911 as she discovered police were headed to the school.
“I thought, ‘This is very real’ and I rushed over,” she said.
Although relieved the threat wasn’t real, Suleiman said her “insides dropped” when she heard from her children about the lockdown.
“I started freaking out. All the news one always hears with these [school] shootings, the parents are always outside the school. So I thought, ‘I need to get outside the school.’ And so I did, and I was one of the first parents here, and then slowly all the other parents started trickling in,” she said.
In January, MCPS experienced its first school shooting when a student at Col. Zadok Magruder High School in Derwood was shot and critically injured in a restroom. Police later apprehended the suspect, a student.
The school was put on lockdown for hours while police searched the school and eventually apprehended the suspect.
Kathy Juda, a mother of two juniors at B-CC, said she received a text message from her daughter at 10:03 a.m. Wednesday that her ceramics class was hiding in the kiln room.
“My daughter’s teacher was outside the kiln room [my daughter] said with a pole with something on the end of it defending the room,” she said.
Juda said she and her husband, who live within walking distance, ran to the school immediately. She said she was horrified, but not surprised by the reported threat and lockdown.
“It’s become commonplace. That’s all I can say,” she said.
Juda said that despite the ongoing concern about school violence, she tries to stay positive as a volunteer with the gun safety group Moms Demand Action.
“The fact that I do volunteer work makes me a little less anxious, because I feel like I’m working to make Maryland safer,” she said.
MCPS states on its website that a lockdown occurs when there is an emergency alert in response to “imminent danger in the school or on campus.” During a lockdown, students, staff members and visitors go to the closest secure location under adult supervision until police have brought the situation under control.
Dylan Hoffman, a senior at B-CC, said administrators at the school expressed anxiety when the announcement of the lockdown was made a little after 10 a.m.
“That’s when everyone started to worry a little bit. The teachers were freaking out. They closed all the windows and doors,” he said.
Hoffman said all of the students were on their phones, trying to keep track of news reports and various rumors that were spreading.
Sebastian Petrilli, a senior, said at first the students didn’t know whether to regard the lockdown announcement as real because there were many rumors.
“You see your friends texting you that there might be a gun and you’re like ‘Oh my god, this is crazy,’ ” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org