‘Alarming’: Official responds to guns found at Dallas County school

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:12 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:24 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Dallas County’s assistant superintendent is speaking out for the first time after three loaded guns were found inside a classroom and multiple students were arrested.

On Friday, three students were taken into custody after investigators received an anonymous call warning that a loaded gun had been brought to Southside High School.

Dallas County Sheriff Mike Granthum said officers immediately put the school into lockdown and, using information from the caller, went to a specific classroom.

The sheriff said an initial search of the classroom resulted in police finding one student with two fully loaded handguns, which were inside a bag. Further searching netted investigators to a third loaded handgun, which was found in a jacket.

“It is alarming to us that this actually happened,” said Assistant Superintendent Vickie Poe.

When asked about what those student were intending to do with the loaded guns, Poe said, “that investigation is still underway.”

Poe said the investigation is also still ongoing into where the students got the guns and how the guns were able to get inside the school building.

Poe said over the past few years, enhanced security has been a priority at Dallas County Schools. She said they have frequent visitations from Selma police officers and deputies with the Dallas County Sherriff’s Office.

“They come and go through the week,” Poe said.

She added that their schools have security systems in place, like locked doors with keyless entry. She also said they have video surveillance cameras and metal detectors.

When asked if the metal detectors were used the day of the incident, Poe said, “I can’t speak to that situation at this time.”

Poe did say the majority of incidents within their schools almost always start in the community.

“Things go on in the communities and then they wind up in the building with us,” she said. “But when they bring it into our building, they made it our business.”

Two students were charged on Friday. The first student was charged with possession of two guns, the other student with possessing one.

While continuing to search the classroom, sheriff’s deputies found a third student who had an active “pick up” order against them, which is essentially an arrest warrant for a juvenile. Granthum said that student was wanted for an unrelated incident involving a shooting into an occupied vehicle or dwelling.

Poe said their district is committed to keeping students safe. She encouraged everyone to say something if they see something.

Granthum called the person who called in the tip Friday a “hero.”

Poe thanked the Dallas County Sherriff’s Office for its quick response, saying, “I think everything went really smooth and it was because of that partnership.”

Poe added their district now has a mental health service coordinator who is able to help students who might be struggling.

They also received a grant and have started this year, a “peer helpers” program that allows teachers to mentor a select groups of students in the classroom to serve as ambassadors in the school and help their peers in need.

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