False Active Shooter Alarm Sounds at Mass. High School

Some students fled while others barricaded their classrooms after the alarm went off while maintenance crews were changing the battery.

False Active Shooter Alarm Sounds at Mass. High School

Photo: lkeskinen, Adobe Stock

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — An active shooter alarm at a Massachusetts high school accidentally went off Friday while maintenance crews were working on the system.

Framingham Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tremblay said the alarm inside Framingham High School sounded around 10:20 a.m. as the battery was being changed, reports MetroWest Daily News.

“The good news is, this was a false alarm,” he said. “The bad news is, it caused a lot of people to be upset unnecessarily.”

Videos shared on Facebook show students running from their classrooms and into a nearby neighborhood. Others stayed in their classrooms and took cover.

“One of my son’s teachers barricaded doors, pushed desks up, and moved all the children into a corner,” said Joe Doherty, whose twin sons attend the school. “I am disappointed they would look to change a battery in the middle of the school day. This is a traumatizing event for the children.”

Tremblay said students who evacuated and were upset were allowed to take the rest of the day off.

“We train people, if you have an active shooter, you don’t necessarily hide in the corner as you did in the lockdown days,” said Tremblay. “You get out. They did the right thing.”

Patrick Almeida, a junior, told 10 Boston he was taking a test when the alarm went off and a computerized voice said, “Active shooter detected in J Hall.”

“We were confused, because we’ve heard drills over the intercom, and we know what they sound like, but we’ve never heard these alarms before,” he said. “My class came to a state of panic. As soon as the teacher heard it, she got up and closed the door, and told everyone to get down and get in the corner. Another teacher moved a big metal cabinet to barricade the door and turned off the lights. Today I saw panic in my teachers, and that’s when it set in that this was not a drill.”

Almeida questioned why the school didn’t wait until after-school hours or February vacation, which is this week, to change the batteries.

“Why did no one alert teachers and staff that there is a possibility that an alarm could go off? This has caused an excessive amount of panic. This could have been avoided,” he said.  “I didn’t understand why that was a good idea to test or change batteries, especially in a week when we’ve seen threats in Massachusetts schools.”

Last week, more than a dozen Massachusetts police departments received swatting calls threatening school violence, according to WCVB.

“The male caller states that he is armed with an ‘AR-15’ and ‘pipe bombs’ in a backpack,” Massachusetts State Police Fusion Center wrote in a statement. “The call ends with the sound of gunfire.”

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is working with law enforcement to investigate the threats. The department said schools and districts have received training and technical assistance in developing emergency response plans that cover incidents of swatting.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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2 responses to “False Active Shooter Alarm Sounds at Mass. High School”

  1. Joe Phillips says:

    I am very concerned about so many things this article discusses, so I will stick to a few of the biggest ones. 1 – They had drills in the past. They are supposed to leave (per a comment in the article). Why did some teachers and students stay in the classrooms? 2 – Why are the doors being barricaded instead of locked? Is this what the teachers are supposed to be doing? 3 – Is there going to be a post-incident review? Or will t be lip service about the timing of the service call instead of actually figuring out what worked and what didn’t? This was not a drill, so people did what they do in an emergency. Was it the right thing? Argh!!

  2. Tom Loos says:

    They conducted drills that allow leaving as an option, not the ONLY option. Further, that phenomenon is largely due to the philosophy of a boxed commercial product that has kids diving out the windows as a default option ignoring two very important variables. It presumes that the threat is inside, close, and real. In the 99% of cases, it is not. Additionally, schools are not like any other buildings. They are designed or modified to allow the opportunity to lock and barricade successfully which should be the the first choice since we can still say that no one has ever been killed when ALL lockdown protocols have been followed. (Lock, Barricade, hard corners) To your second concern, Barricade is what we teach after locking the doors. It doesn’t mean that the doors couldn’t be locked. It’s enhancement and the right thing to do.

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