RACINE — Park High School went into lockdown twice Wednesday, once during the school day and the second time less than half an hour before a Horlick vs. Park girls’ basketball game was scheduled to tip off after police received reports of gunfire.
No injuries were reported in either incident, and no shots had actually been fired in the second incident, according to police.
The first lockdown occurred just before 1 p.m., when police responded to an alley near 12th Street and Linden Avenue, across the street from Park’s main entrance.
Carl Harris, who lives on the 1900 block of 12th Street, said that he heard four gunshots coming from the alley behind his house.
A “soft lockdown” was initiated at the school, which means students were told to take shelter in place, according to Racine Unified spokeswoman Stacy Tapp. The lockdown was lifted less than an hour later.
Racine Police said Wednesday afternoon that multiple people were taken in for questioning, but no arrests had been made as of 4 p.m.
Harris said that he hears gunshots multiple times a year from his home, but this was the first time they were fired this close in at least three years.
“This is crazy,” he said. “This is too close.”
Shortly after 5 p.m., a Park High staff member called 911 to report what they thought were gunshots, Tapp said, but police later determined that the sounds had come from a piece of machinery in a classroom.
At about 5:10 p.m., a lockdown was in place and police began a search within the school, according to police radio reports.
Officers also formed a perimeter around the school, many of them carrying tactical firearms, and nobody other than law enforcement was allowed in or out of the building.
More than 50 students, staff and parents were inside the school when the lockdown began, many of them preparing for two basketball games (one girls and one boys) scheduled for that night, while others had been at swim practice. Both basketball games were canceled, the second cancellation in two weeks for the intracity Southeast Conference match-ups after the first games were delayed on Jan. 25 because of weather.
The girls game has been rescheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at Park. The boys game has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at Park.
The canceled basketball game had been planned to be a benefit for Henry Owens, a 1988 Park grad and two-sport athlete who lost both of his legs in a boating accident last June.
At about 6:10 p.m., the shutdown ended and those who had been inside the school were released. They had not been told why the lockdown occurred, according to several students who spoke with The Journal Times.
“We are extremely impressed by the emergency response of our students, staff and spectators who were in the building at the time and thankful for our police officers for their immediate action, professionalism and support this evening,” Tapp said in a statement.
After initially feeling anxious during the lockdown, Dylan Zimmerman, a Horlick cheerleader, said that “everything was kind of chill” as her squad waited in a locker room to be released.
In the minutes following the beginning of the lockdown and police forming a perimeter, some students outside the school were seen crying and confused about what was going on. Several called their parents on cell phones, asking to be picked up, even before the games were officially called off.
Others who had been outside when the lockdown began were not allowed to retrieve their cars from the parking lots until after it was over.
Sue Corona-Lynch had intended to watch her niece play in the basketball game, but instead nervously waited for news outside throughout the 5 p.m. hour — along with several other parents, friends and family members who lined up on nearby streets. Corona-Lynch was texting her niece, who gave her updates while waiting in the Park Fieldhouse.
“Everybody is concerned,” she said.
“We are extremely impressed by the emergency response of our students, staff and spectators who were in the building at the time and thankful for our police officers for their immediate action, professionalism and support this evening.” Stacy Tapp, Racine Unified spokeswoman