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Gunshot puts Groveton schools on lockout alert

December 01, 2010
GROVETON — The Groveton area schools were put on emergency lockout on Monday afternoon after staff at the high school reportedly heard a gun shot and saw two individuals across State Street, one with a rifle.

"There is absolutely no danger to the public and the intent from what I'm being told is [the two] went out to go hunting," said Groveton Police Chief Marcel Platt.

According to Chief Platt after the shot was heard two teenage boys emerged into view from behind the recreation center snack shack, got into a red Saturn and drove away from the scene. It wasn't long after they left that Chief Platt arrived at the high school. He had called ahead to the SAU58 office and issued a school wide lockout at 2:30 p.m. The Groveton elementary and high school didn't come out of lockout until Chief Platt determined that no one was in danger and students were released around 2:45 p.m.

Through information at the school Chief Platt was able to speculate who the driver of the red car was. Staff informed him that the car was always parked in the same space. Chief Platt noted that the two boys were both Groveton high school students and had been released from school earlier that day. After word got out that the Groveton Police Department and State Police were looking for him the boy with the rifle turned himself in at the GPD station. He had been heading south on Route 3 when he heard that police were looking for him and stopped at the Whitefield Police Department to contact Groveton. Once he confirmed that police did indeed want to question him the teen returned to Groveton with his parents.

"I talked with the suspect and no charges are pending at this point in time," said Chief Platt in a phone interview late Monday evening. "The shot was not fired at the school." He also said that the rifle belonged to one of the young men.

It was 2:20 p.m. when Groveton High School Principal Pierre Couture heard the shot and two teachers informed him of what they saw out of their classroom window on the second floor.

According to Mr. Couture the red vehicle was parked approximately 500 feet away from the school by the basketball court before it drove off.

"When the teachers upstairs saw this guy coming out of the woods carrying a gun I never felt the school was in danger or the students, but just in case we called the police," said Mr. Couture.

The elementary and high school then went into "lock-out" which is different from "lock-down". Lock down is, in effect, when there is a possibly dangerous person in the school that results in the lights turned off, shades drawn, class room doors locked and students in one corner of the room. In a lock out, however, the possible danger is outside the school and the priority is to keep that person from gaining entry. Groveton staff checked the perimeter of the school and were posted at the doors until the all clear was sounded.

"Living in North Country it's hunting season and at home you hear shots, its kind of the way it is," said Mr. Couture. "We never felt in danger, when a teacher saw the car drive away, it was like 'ok they're gone.' I never thought there was any revenge towards the school. It just goes to show you, having weapons near school is pretty serious and will be treated that way."

Varney Smith
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