In the Grip of Terror, Lawrence High Experiences a Lockdown After a Phone Threat Prompts a Citywide School Alert

 In the Grip of Terror, Lawrence High Experiences a Lockdown After a Phone Threat Prompts a Citywide School AlertSource: Google Street View
Mitch M. Rosenthal
Published on November 29, 2023

Lawrence, Massachusetts, was plunged into a state of high alert yesterday as all public schools in the city were thrown into lockdown following a chilling phone threat of gun violence and suicide at Lawrence High School, police confirmed. The harrowing call that set off the panic was made to Lawrence police at about 10:30 a.m., sending law enforcement officers to rapidly descend on the high school located on North Parish Road, as reported by MassLive.

Tense moments unfolded across the city as officers worked to quickly secure not just the high school but also thoroughly ensure the safety of other schools throughout Lawrence. The city's Police Department received a call through the department's suicide hotline, leading them to immediately place the high school on exterior lockdown, a measure both cautionary and reflective of the dire potential of the threat. "The department always trained for" such an incident, Police Chief William Castro said in a statement obtained by NBC Boston.

As the clock ticked past 1:45 p.m., authorities had yet to confirm if the lockdown had been lifted, leaving parents, students, and the community in a gripping wait for updates on their safety. The caller, whose motives remain shrouded in alarm, had been making threats of self-harm in addition to shooting, adding a layer of complexity to the police's ongoing investigation, as outlined in a joint release from the city and police department provided to NBC Boston.

Fostering an alliance in the face of adversity, Chief Castro offered his thanks to Superintendent Juan Rodriguez and the school staff, acknowledging their efforts to protect the students and coordinate with law enforcement. While the investigation continued into the afternoon and it was not immediately clear if there was ever to actually be a credible threat or if anyone had been hurt, the community stood witness to a stark reminder of the nation's ongoing struggle with gun violence threats in schools.