UPDATE: Fremont police said Friday that a 14-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of terroristic threats, a felony, in connection with the Thursday night incident at Fremont High School. He was taken to the Northeast Nebraska Juvenile Services Center in Madison.
At Fremont High, everything appeared to be back to normal Friday morning, according to a person who answered the phone at the school office.
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FREMONT, Neb. — Sarah Prall texted her dad when Fremont High School went into lockdown Thursday afternoon.
School had ended, but the junior was making up a test in a classroom when the lockdown was announced over the intercom. Students and staff still in the building hid — they had drilled for this — but still they feared the worst.
I’m scared, I’m praying, Prall texted her father.
The lockdown had gone into effect after a student reported seeing two others, one with what appeared to be a gun, walk into the building.
As it turned out, the student was carrying only a BB gun. Two hours after the incident started, he and another student were apprehended by police about two blocks from the school.
No shots were fired, and no one was injured in the incident.
Fremont Police Lt. Detective Shane Wimer said the weapon was a BB pistol. One of the students was released, and one remained in custody Thursday evening.
“There were no students ever in danger,” Wimer said. “The fear is what the problem is.”
According to information from Wimer, Police Chief Jeff Elliott and other authorities:
About 4 p.m., a student reported seeing two other youths outside the school, and one of them had what appeared to be a gun in his waistband. The two students walked into the building.
The student alerted school officials, who called police. The building was placed on lockdown, and police began clearing the building by going room to room to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Fremont police, Dodge and Saunders County sheriff’s deputies and Nebraska State Patrol officers surrounded the building as it was searched.
Dan Witthuhn, who lives across the street from the school, said students evacuated the building in an orderly manner.
“They’re walking hand in hand, in a chain,” he said. “You never think this is going to happen in your own hometown.”
Parents and students gathered at the Fremont Alliance Church.
Mikayla Rhoads is an intern at the church, which sits across the street from the school and is the designated safe place for students and school staff in an emergency.
She said she and other workers at the church tried to comfort students and the panic-stricken parents who showed up as rumors circulated throughout the community.
“It was definitely intense,” she said. “You practice and practice and practice for this ... It’s very shocking, but that’s why you practice.”
By 6:05 p.m., the school was released from lockdown, according to KMTV.
Brad Prall, Sarah Prall’s father, said he got the text from his daughter at 4:13 p.m. but didn’t receive any notification from the school until 6:23 p.m. He was frustrated that it took so long for the school to contact parents.
It’s not clear how many students or others were in the building at the time of the lockdown. Almost 1,500 students attended the high school in the 2017-18 school year.
It was unclear Thursday night whether the students who were arrested attended Fremont High or a different school.
The incident remains under investigation. Classes will resume normally Friday.
Nearby, a grade school and the YMCA had also been put on lockdown. The school’s swimming and diving team was hosting its first-ever home competition Thursday night at the Aquatic Center.
Jerry Rinne, executive director of the Fremont Family YMCA, said the lockdown was done as a precaution because the YMCA is about six blocks from the high school.
Fremont Public Schools Superintendent Mark Shepard said the good news is that the safety protocols and drills taught to students were followed.
“ ‘If you see something, say something’ ... absolutely worked,” he said. “We take every threat very seriously.”
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