Mom's fears of missing gun prompt lockdown at Oshkosh North High School

Oshkosh North High School on Nov. 1, 2018. (WLUK/Mike Moon)

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WLUK) -- Police gave the all-clear after Oshkosh North High School was placed on lockdown Thursday morning.

Oshkosh police were investigating a report of a student with a gun.

Officials said the events leading up to the lockdown began Tuesday.

Oshkosh police said the parents of a 16-year-old boy said their son was shooting a rifle on their property that day. That behavior worried the teen’s mother enough to talk with a school worker.

Then on Thursday, school officials contacted the teen’s mother and police after he was seen on school property, but was not in class.

The mother then told school officials a gun might be missing from their home. It turns out no weapon was missing, but until police made that determination, the school was locked down for about 45 minutes.

The teen was found two miles from the school, with no weapons.

"The Oshkosh Police Department, and the Oshkosh School District will always make the safety of our students a top priority,” said Oshkosh Police Chief Dean Smith. “We use all of our resources available to keep our kids safe.”

Oshkosh North parents and students said they were on edge during the lockdown, not knowing what was going on.

“People automatically thought armed intruder, and people were barricading themselves into the rooms, so people thought those were gunshots,” Oshkosh North junior Romeo Lee said. “I didn't really think they were gunshots, but they were pretty loud bangs.”

At first, Kelly Page, whose daughter attends Oshkosh North, was wasn’t overly concerned and thought the lockdown had to do with police having an issue with somebody in the surrounding area, not directly in the school.

"Until she told me that they were you know, barricading the door, then I was like, woah, okay, this is a little more serious than what we've had in the past,” Page said.

Fear gave way to panic for several parents in Oshkosh Thursday morning.

“I got on my phone, and I told my mother,” Lee explained. “I was like, ‘Mom, something’s going down at the school,’ and she was super worried.”

Students barricaded in classrooms, desperately trying to reach out to mom and dadparents like Kelly Page holding their breath in between those text messages.

“I’m trying to message her to get more information, like are you hearing anything? You know, what’s going?” Page said. “The Wi-Fi kept cutting in and out, so she wasn’t always messaging back right away, which was obviously scary.”

It’s a tough call for any parent to have to make: notifying authorities of their child’s erratic behavior.

Although the threat turned out not to be real, Page praises that mom for doing whatever she could to keep people safe.

“If more parents notified schools that, ‘Hey, my child could potentially be a threat,’ maybe we wouldn’t see as much,” Page said. “I mean, wishful thinking, I don’t know but, in this situation, I think she deserves a lot of credit.”

“A responsible parent would do just that,” psychologist Frank Cummings of Psychology Associates of the Fox Cities said. “It speaks more to the parents' concern but also their awareness -- some parents are not aware of what their kids are doing.”

Calling the police on your own child or loved one doesn’t happen too often.

Psychologists said it’s a rarity for three reasons: the innate instinct to protect, denial or embarrassment, and fear of the legal system.

“The best thing to do is to hold your kids accountable for their behavior, and not worry about what’s going to happen down the stream or the impact that it’s going to have on your life,” Cummings said. “It might be very profound, but it also could be the best thing you can do for your kid.”

Officials used reception from the teen’s cell phone to find him.

After being found near the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, the teen was taken to a medical facility to be treated for pre-existing medical conditions, and his mental health.

Oshkosh police say that at no time was the public in any danger.

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