Parents, classmates speak out after student brings gun to school - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Parents, classmates speak out after student brings gun to school


After Bluffton police, Beaufort County sheriff's deputies, and bomb squad searched every inch of Bluffton High School, parents and students were still left with questions.

On Wednesday, Bluffton High School was on lock down, and two other schools in the area, Bluffton Elementary and H.E McCracken Middle School, were on a modified lockdown.

This was all after one student, Austen Almeida, 17, brought a gun to Bluffton High School. But, parents and students didn't know that. The only thing that was known at the time was that no one was allowed to leave their classrooms.

"I was so scared. I didn't know what to think. Like I don't know, I'm still in shock. I don't even know if this is real life," said Bluffton High senior Alison Reinhardt as she exited the school.

According to Reinhardt, everything happened fast. One minute she was in Biology class, and the next police came into the classroom searching book bags.

"They were like we're looking for big things, not little things. We were like, 'what big things?' And they were like 'guns,'" she said.

It was a terrifying five hours for Reinhardt and the other 1,099 students inside that school.

But on the outside, waiting across the street, were their parents. They were just as scared and frustrated as their children, if not more.

Parents praised the school, the district, and authorities for handling the situation before things someone got hurt, or worse.

"I am grateful to the school for acting on this," said Andrew Glaser, grandparent. "It seems as though all of this could have ended badly if the school staff hadn't noticed something wrong with this kid."

But some parents were frustrated with officials. They said they felt like police and school administrators weren't telling them the whole truth.

"If police are saying the situation is under control, why are they still on a modified lock down?" asked Karyn Goldburg, parent. "It's either secure or it's not. There is no in between. We want answers."

Parents were notified about the lockdown situation through an automatic message sent from the district. Every parent who was at Bluffton High Wednesday said they received that message.

Although Almeida has been arrested, and police searched the school and found no other weapons or any explosive devices, some students said they do not plan on going to school Thursday. They said they are too scared to go back. 

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