Byron schools put on lockdown after report of possible gun case being brought into school building

Turns out the bag was not carrying a gun but a banner

Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle

BYRON – Ogle County sheriff’s deputies along with other area police officers were called into action Wednesday morning at Byron Middle School when a student thought they saw a person entering the school through a side door with a bag that resembled a gun case.

It took officers less than 20 minutes to determine that the bag in question was carrying a banner for an upcoming show, but Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle praised the response to the incident.

“At 7:55 a.m., Byron School District personnel, along with the Byron school resource officer, were made aware of a report of a person accessing the Byron Middle School theater holding a long, slender bag that resembled a gun case,” VanVickle said in social media post. “Emergency procedures were followed to ensure the safety of the students and staff.

“Additional units from the Ogle County Sheriff’s Office and Byron Police Department responded to the scene. Upon investigation, it was determined there was no weapon, and the individual entering the building was a park district employee bringing a banner [and case] into the theater for an upcoming show.”

On Wednesday evening, VanVickle said the student was on a school bus when he saw two individuals entering the school building from a side door, with one of them carrying a case that appeared to be a gun case.

The student told the bus driver, who relayed the information to school officials who then notified police.

The middle school along with the elementary and high school were put into a lockdown as officers investigated the incident, VanVickle said. The lockdown was lifted by 8:15 a.m.

“Everybody did what they have been trained to do,” VanVickle said. “All of the systems were tested today, and they worked.”

He praised the student for reporting what they believed to be suspicious activity.

“After seeing the video, it did look like a gun,” VanVickle said. “It was a difficult time of the day because kids were all arriving for school, but everything worked out.”

VanVickle said he walked through the middle school and spoke with students after the lockdown was lifted to ease any concerns that they may have had.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.