South Elementary Briefly Put on Soft Lockdown Monday Morning

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 17, 2022 at 1:43pm

Principal Tim Chipman explained the situation to parents over voicemail. “This morning, due to an argument between two adults near but not on the school grounds, South School was notified by the South Jacksonville Police Department to move into lockdown status. From approximately 9:00 to 9:20 am was on soft lockdown.

For the remainder of the day, students will remain indoors here at South School. There has been no threat to the safety and security of our students and staff.”

South Jacksonville Police Chief Eric Hansell says a call came in from a convenience store on South Main Street of an armed man who was walking down Village Lane. He says two men did get into an argument in the 100 block of West Vandalia. The call of a man with a gun came after one of the men went into the Circle K on South Main Street looking for the other man who he said had just threatened him with a gun.

Hansell says officers located the individual not long after the call came in. “We found the guy, searched him, and were unable to find a gun. We searched the area and were also unable to find a gun. He admitted to us that he had told the other guy he had a gun when he actually didn’t have a gun.

So because of the proximity of the school and not initially knowing what we had with a guy walking down Village Lane right there adjacent to the school, we just immediately put the school on lockdown. It was just precautionary because what we had wasn’t related to South School, but we didn’t know what we were facing at the time. I would rather cry wolf and nothing happen than to not cry wolf and have something happen.”

Principal Chipman thanked Chief Hansell, the South Jacksonville Police, and District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek for their immediate response. Chipman followed up later, saying that outdoor access to students has returned at this time.