BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A Fort Madison High School student was taken into custody Wednesday morning after school officials learned the student brought a loaded handgun into the building.
School officials released a statement to the media and parents at about 12:40 outlining the situation and indicating that there are no immediate safety concerns associated with the incident.
Wednesdays are typically early out days and the district made the decision to dismiss classes following the incident about 30 minutes earlier that the normal 1:15 p.m.
No injuries were reported and there is no indication the gun was fired.
According to the statement from the district, the student had not made any direct threat to other students or staff, but upon learning about the weapon, administrators followed the safety protocols and immediately notified Fort Madison Police, located the student, and confiscated the weapon. The student was also removed from the building.
Fort Madison Police Chief Mark Rohloff said police responded to the school at 10:55 and assisted with recovering a semi-automatic pistol.
He said the 15-year-old male student is now in custody at the Southeast Juvenile Detention Center charged with a weapons violation, possession of marijuana, and harassment. He said the investigation is ongoing and authorities are still trying to determine how the student obtained the weapon.
Officials haven’t commented on how they became aware the student possessed the gun.
Rohloff reiterated that at no time Wednesday were students or staff at risk.
“We are confident that all immediate safety concerns have been addressed. The district takes any possession of weapons and any potential for violence very seriously. District administrators have been working closely with local police to assess the situation and to determine the best course of action to protect the safety of students and staff members. The student remains in police custody.”
After-school practices or other events will continue as scheduled, as the district said all safety concerns have been fully addressed.
“We understand that this can be a very scary time for our students, families, and staff members. We encourage students who have concerns or would like to discuss today’s events further to reach out to the building guidance counselors,” the statement indicated.
“We also encourage you to speak with your students about the important role they play in school safety. If they learn of a possible threat to safety, they should report it immediately to a teacher or administrator or to the police. We appreciate the support of the entire FMCSD community as we take steps to protect the safety of our students and staff members.”
Holy Trinity Catholic officials said the school learned about the incident at about 1:00 p.m. and made the decision after speaking with authorities to continue the school day without interruption.
This posting was updated at 2:28 p.m. to reflect information from the Fort Madison Police Department