Loaded rifle found on school property; students put on lockdown

As Kirksville High School students prepared for their holiday vacations, they were put on lockdown Tuesday morning, after a school resource officer found a rifle in the front seat of a vehicle, parked in a parking lot between the school and the Kirksville Area Technical Center.

Superintendent Patrick Williams said the incident began when the school resource officer went to investigate a parking complaint.

"When our resource officer went to investigate the parking complaint, he saw a rifle in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. So, he immediately alerted the school officials. As a standard procedure, we went into lockdown."

Students attending Kirksville High School and Kirksville Area Technical Center were put on lockdown. This procedure included keeping all of the students in their classrooms, and locking exterior and interior doors. A call for help was sent to dispatch and all available officers responded to the scene.

"Our people responded as they're supposed to. Safety and precaution is first and foremost, " said Williams. "But, of course, when you see a firearm on campus, there's an immediate lockdown procedure that we implement and we did so."

While students were on lockdown, Williams said the officers began to search for the owner of the vehicle. He said the owner was located within a short amount of time and then, required to remove the rifle from his vehicle and hand it over to the police. Students said the lockdown last about five to 10 minutes.

According to Williams, the man "inadvertently" left the rifle in the vehicle with ammunition. Williams said the vehicle owner was a man from the area, who was visiting the Kirksville Area Technical Center to take a licensing exam. Since there did not appear to be any harm intended, the man was permitted to finish taking his exam after he removed the weapon from his vehicle. It is against school rules to have a firearm while on the premises.