GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - A frightening Wednesday morning in for students and staff at a Goochland elementary school after someone dressed in camouflage and carrying a gun and knife was spotted around the corner from the school.
“The original call said that he had a rifle it is more than likely that it was a shotgun,” said Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew. “Well, obviously we are going to deploy all of the resources that we have.”
The man walking with a shotgun was seen along Cardwell Road by school staff about a quarter of a mile from Randolph Elementary School. Moments later the school went on lock down as a precaution.
The call at 7:30 a.m. to the superintendent and law enforcement at sends deputies scrambling and 350 students detoured to a safe location.
“You can't take safety of the school facility seriously,” said Goochland’s Deputy School Superintendent Dr. Peter Gretz. “We need to be vigilant and prepared for the worst.”
The man was never found, but the sheriff, who served 15 years as the county’s game warden, believes the man was turkey hunting and posed no threat to students.
As a result, the lockdown was lifted within an hour.
Wanda Hanson's 8-year-old grandson attends Randolph. She applauds the school staff and sheriff's office for acting so fast.
“In any situation like this it's still better to be safe than sorry,” says Hanson. “It was real scary. Scary. It is something that we all have to be aware of and keep our eyes out."
Last February, a hunter walking near a middle school in Prince George caused a similar lockdown.
“There is no law about having a gun near the school. It is illegal to have a gun on school property with some exceptions,” said Agnew.
Agnew said hunting is a way of country life, but with random school shootings making headlines hunters need to be more aware.
“People are obviously on edge," he said. "Go on and enjoy your hunt but out of sight out of mind.”
Agnew said even if the man was located he doubts he would be charged with any crime because what he was doing was no illegal.
In addition to recorded messages sent to parents, a letter was sent home with each student detailing what happened before the school bell on Wednesday.