Four Casper schools were placed on a brief lockout Monday morning after a car backfiring was mistaken for gunshots, authorities said.
Natrona County High School, Dean Morgan Junior High, and Cottonwood and Park elementary schools were all placed on a “precautionary” lockout Monday morning. The Casper Police Department responded to a report of shots fired in the area of 930 S. Elm St., near the high school.
It was later determined that the sound was that of a car backfiring as the vehicle was being “worked on,” police said in a Facebook post.
Lockouts — where all doors are locked and everyone is brought inside the building, but activities continue as normal — are different from lockdowns, in which a threat is imminent and students and staff take shelter within the school.
Albeit a false alarm, Monday’s incident is the latest in a string of similar situations across Natrona County schools since mid-February. The district is in the process of rolling out what officials have called a comprehensive safety plan to address threats going forward. The city of Casper has also repeatedly discussed school safety at meetings since the deadly Feb. 14 shootings at a Parkland, Florida, high school.
Two weeks ago, a prank bomb threat was made against Natrona County High, prompting a significant police response. In another episode, every school in the district was put on lockout after a student who had previously made threats was implicated in the theft of a handgun.
District officials have discussed bringing on two additional police officers to work in schools, doubling the number that now exists. Hiring those officers would require financial support from the city. Some City Council members have expressed support for the hirings, but a formal vote has yet to take place.