MISSOULA – Students and staff of Sentinel High School will return to school on Tuesday with an increase in police presence after a handgun magazine filled with live ammunition was found in the hallways Monday morning.
The findings led to a three-hour school lockdown, no arrests and all of Monday evening’s activities canceled.
Following a press conference with Principal Ted Fuller, we are learning more details about the incident. He says the timeline of events started sometime before school when students found a loaded handgun magazine on the floor of the hallway.
“The eyewitnesses heard the sound of something metallic hitting the floor,” Fuller said adding that a student reported the item to the main office at 8 a.m.
School officials quickly contacted MCPS administrators and local law enforcement and a decision was made to clear the halls and initiate a full school lockdown. Following a complete search of the entire building, no new evidence was found to determine a suspect.
“We do not have an individual by name or even an appearance,” Fuller said. “Unfortunately, the witnesses observed the individual from behind as he was walking. All we have are some physical descriptors – we don’t have a name. We don’t have a grade level. We don’t have anything.”
Due to construction in the area where the loaded magazine was found, no security cameras were available to help in the investigation. Throughout the incident, MCPS used social media and cell phone to update concerned parents.
Fuller says after an onslaught of school threats last spring and now this, the school’s threat preparedness is constantly being evaluated.
“I think the biggest take away for me as a principal is those systems can never just be left with the idea that they are where they need to be. They constantly need to be refined,” Fuller said.
MCPS will continue investigating in parallel with the Missoula Police Department.
Reporting by Kent Luetzen for MTN News