AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District Police Department responded Wednesday after a student was caught on the Lanier High School campus with an airsoft gun, giving updates on how it plans to prevent future incidents.
“I felt like if I got shot, that would be the last time I would ever get to see my mom,” said Desiree Thompson, a freshman at Lanier High School.
“The school resource officer inside was made aware that there was a student that flashed or displayed a handgun,” said AISD Police Chief Ashley Gonzalez.
The students inside had to trust their school was protecting them.
“I felt like somebody was going to find us because we’re supposed to be quiet the whole time, the lights are off and everything, so it just made me really nervous,” Thompson said.
The threat, a fellow student armed with an airsoft gun, was caught by police within the hour.
Since Chief Gonzales took over for the Austin ISD Police Department, he’s implemented a new strategic plan which helps streamline the way other law enforcement agencies get involved in an emergency. And we saw that in full effect on Wednesday. APD and their K9 unit helped track down the threat.
“It’s through the coordinated efforts between AISD and APD that we were able to capture the suspect, very quickly,” said Assistant Chief Richard Guajardo with the Austin Police Department.
The district has fully prepared for these situations. It was over one year ago when the state awarded it over $40,000 for ballistic vests. Additionally, Chief Gonzalez acknowledged traumatic events of the past, like the suicide on Lanier campus back in October 2013, are learning moments for the entire staff.
“We train for this, we try to train the staff for these events to minimize the impact on the school. And maximize safety for everyone involved,” Chief Gonzalez said.
The students KXAN spoke to said the school did a good job today, but they think more should be done to keep everyone safe. They say they’d like to see a larger police presence, more patrols through the halls and even suggested all students receive pat-downs.
Student faces a felony
Police say the student caught with the air soft gun — which can look like real guns — will likely face felony charges.
On the bottom left is a Colt M-19-11 hand gun. On the top right, is the airsoft gun 12-year-old Tamir Rice was holding when an officer shot and killed him in 2014.
This photo was used as part of a Grand Jury trial that declined to bring criminal charges against the officer.
In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, police confirmed the suspect allegedly displayed the weapon in a school hallway and several students and staff members reported the threat.
Authorities explained that after an off-campus foot chase using a K-9 unit, the suspect was discovered hiding behind a house at the intersection of New Hampshire and Fairfield drives. At that time, authorities discovered that the weapon was in fact an airsoft gun, according to AISD police chief Ashley Gonzalez.
All students and staff were reported as safe and activities resumed at Lanier High School Wednesday afternoon.
Police also confirmed the student will face a felony terroristic threat offense and that no possible motive has been obtained.