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'Misunderstanding' Leads to UDHS Lockdown

A student miming a gun with an umbrella briefly causes a panic.

Upper Dublin High School was placed under lockdown during first period classes Monday morning following a report of a possibly armed subject at the school.

Upper Dublin Police said four male students were being held for questioning by detectives after they were seen in a hallway on school security cameras with what appeared to be a "long gun" slung over one of their shoulders.

Upper Dublin School District Superintendent Michael Pladus told parents in an email message that a "suspicious incident" had turned out to be "a student with an umbrella."

A police officer at the scene told Patch that one of the students at the school had been holding an umbrella in a gun-like manner and had been pretending to "shoot" it.

An Upper Dublin Police Department representative said by telephone that the incident was a "misunderstanding" and that students were never in danger.

Upper Dublin Police Chief Terry Thompson said the incident had been the result of "some kids in the wrong place, at the wrong time, on the wrong day." No weapons were involved, Thompson said.

Police said the students' actions were "part of a school project to simulate the human immune system protecting the body."

A number of visibly upset parents had gathered near one of the doors of the school by 9:25 a.m. A school administrator was directing parents who wanted to sign their children out of school to the school's main office, and a number of parents were doing so. 

Some parents received worried calls from friends and family members who saw the police presence at the school, while other heard about the incident on the news.

Upper Dublin High School Sophomore Justin Asaraf was in gym class when the school was locked down.

He said that his teacher instructed his class to hide in the locker room, where they stayed for roughly 30 minutes.

Another student who was in the gym when the lockdown was broadcast over the loudspeakers said that she could hear running throughout the halls.

Patch editor Kyle Bagenstose contributed to this report.

Jeanne December 17, 2012 at 10:54 PM
California newspapers are a national laughingstock.
UDHSStudent December 18, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I am an Upper Dublin High School student who was in the AP Biology class when this occurred. The project that we were doing was meant to be a creative method of learning about the human immune system, and the group that included the suspects was using a military analogy to explain the process. I know all four of the boys personally - they're all good kids - and although what happened was unfortunate, I can say with certainty that none of them did anything wrong, nor did the school, the teacher, or the police. The boy with the umbrella is a friend of mine, and he is definitely not the type of person who would ever harm or scare anyone intentionally. We were all shaken up, but more than anything, this was an indication of how safe we are at UDHS, as shown by the immediate and effective response. I just want to let everyone know that as an eyewitness, I believe that no one was at fault here, and I'm very glad that everyone was safe.
I Love UD! December 18, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Woah, that's pretty heavy stuff truthsayer...
David Franklin December 18, 2012 at 02:39 AM
The people in positions of authority both in the school district and in the UD police are supposed to have some level of education. If they don't have that level of education, you have situations where they needlessly cause panic and.......oh yeah, they did that today, didn't they? Thanks for the national embarrassment, Upper Dublin!
Mike December 18, 2012 at 02:51 AM
@Trish It's amazing how someone can make such uneducated judgements about someone, especially considering the fact that no one did anything wrong here. I know these group of kids and they are the among the brightest in the grade, and even among the entire school. They are brilliant people and the fact that you think you can make some conclusion that they are "mentally unstable" or "irresponsible" is absolutely ridiculous and can purely display your ignorance and unawareness of the actual situation.
Tina December 18, 2012 at 04:47 AM
I applaud whoever it was who notified authorities, that's beng vigilent. If it weren't an umbrella none would be laughing. In what I read on the patch,, it was inappropriate actions by the kids, especially at this time.
Mike December 18, 2012 at 05:53 AM
I think if you were aware of the events you would know that they evidently did not have any bad intentions or "insensitivity" that you speak of. They had the intentions of working hard on science project and getting an A on it and for some reason you feel the need to conclude they were insensitive simply based on your substance-less speculation. Of course we are all entitled to a belief, but at least have the decency to make it logical and and take the time to think before you make ridiculous conclusions.
mark smerkanich December 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Error on the side of cautious is now being ridiculed? And this was an example of the government raising our children? Now who is paranoid? The school district or those who post such ridiculous words? We should applaud those who took the situation seriously and thank first responders. Better to be safe than sorry and kids are safe. Let those who are ignorant laugh at overreaction.
mark smerkanich December 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Yet another example of poor taste and lack of common sense. It all seems harmless until someone uses that idea with an assault rifle and kills innocent people. We live in violent times and there are many angry people out there who use guns as their weapon of choice.
John December 18, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Some people are misunderstanding my stance that this was an over-reaction... I do not blame the students (although poor timing, I doubt they expected this) I do not think the police did anything wrong. And I think it is great the school was able to react quickly... AND I am certainly glad nothing bad happened. Especially as a parent of a kid who was in the school at the time! BUT... I am angry at the person who watched the surveillance video and sounded the alarm before verifying it was an actual situation. It would have taken a few seconds to call down to someone in the area and ask them what was actually going on. I know, I know, someone will start saying that someone could have been killed in those few seconds... BUT after everything that happened Friday was it REALLY necessary to put the kids through this??? A few seconds to verify would have prevented the ENTIRE situation. Everybody is "on edge" and this kind of stuff just makes it worse! Stop arguing. Please. Everyone is okay and we are glad for that. But people also need to CALM down. STOP debating. GO ON with your lives. STOP sensationalizing this (terrible) event.
JAG December 18, 2012 at 06:13 PM
know your facts. SWAT team was not involved. Officers were doing what they were suppose to be doing. You think everyone would be grateful and not hateful!
Paula Goff December 18, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I tend to discount the opinions of someone who has an ego big enough to label him/herself as "truthsayer," as if anyone else with a different viewpoint is automatically wrong.
Nora Long December 18, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I was taking my 2 sons, who both go to SRMS, to an orthodontist appt. yesterday. I happened to be going by UDHS, when all of the cop cars, from Upper Dublin Twp., Springfield Twp., Abington Twp., Whitemarsh Twp., Cheltenham Twp, including Cheltenham SWAT team, and undercover cars, were heading to UDHS. I felt that in light of what happened on Friday, the response was completely appropriate. And I can say, that after the orthodontist appt., I felt that my kids would be safe going back to school in UD. Knowing the swift response from all Twps, we are in good hands. We need to stick together in a time like this, and I think what happened Friday, has taken us all back to square 1, as far as fear and school security goes. Sure there's going to be some bumps in the road along the way. I'm sure the kids yesterday were scared, and after Friday, they should be. Think of it as sort of a drill for the real thing, (God Forbid!). I could care less, that another state thinks anything about this, makes us a laughing stock, or thinks anything about this is remotely funny. I would like to see how their state would react in the same situation? Better safe than sorry is how I figure it. I'm glad my kids aren't in California! Good job Upper Dublin and all the other townships who showed up so swiftly, to take care of OUR KIDS!! Thank you!
JAG December 18, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Nice to hear a refreshing outlook on this. The comments of an innocent child is what we need. Not ungrateful citizens.
Paula Goff December 18, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Mark, you are so right about erring on the side of caution. And thanks, UDHSStudent, for explaining the project. I'm just wondering whether teachers or other adults knew what the AP students had in mind, because if they did, they probably should have thought better about a simulated attack using a pretend rifle in a school so soon after Sandy Hook, when everybody's nerves are still on edge.
JAG December 18, 2012 at 06:45 PM
seriously??? So, police should had ignored all this is what you are stating? Further, the SWAT team was not called in. Better to err on the side of caution than to have another Sandy Hook situation.
truthsayer December 18, 2012 at 07:51 PM
In that case Ms. Goff, perhaps you could tell me how truth is a "viewpoint" or opinion, rather than an absolute? I offer my "viewpoint" on the current state of fear spreading throughout our country. My opinion is based on observations of actual events and reactions, as well as my observations over the past 50+ years of seeing America fall into decline. You offer your opinion that I should be dismissed based on a screen name I have chosen, rather than any of the content contained in my post. That seems like a dangerous way to form an opinion of someone, when you completely ignore the meaning of their words, and base your opinion solely on their name. Thank you, however, for validating my point. Your other post states that "everyone's nerves are still on edge". A statement that shows you are frightened, and you believe many others are frightened as well. Exactly what I was saying. People are consumed by fear, and pleading for the government and police to stop the next massacre. They will not, and cannot. And if you don't understand that, then I feel sad for you and others who don't understand a "truth", an absolute, about human beings. We are basically evil. Able to kill for greed, lust, fear, want, anger and even boredom. It is the values we learn as children, that prevent us from killing. When you turn the responsiblilty of raising a child over to the government and the media, those values are not taught, and this is why you have children killing children in America.
Dresher Mom December 18, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Was that actually the type of umbrella he/she had??
andthatsthetruth December 18, 2012 at 09:13 PM
John I do agree with you. This does sound like it was security's problem of being paranoid. Someone doesn't walk into a high rise and scream fire without checking it out first. It would cause a massive exodus and people would be trampled and killed as they were leaving. Same scenerio here, somehow the word got out about this happening and parents showed up at school prior to the facts being presented first. People have heart problems other medical issues that shouldn't add the stress and anxiousness that other problems may prevail. It was handled in poor taste. I know all about prevention is the best medicine but this is ridiculous. UD needs to review their security protocol.
Paula Goff December 18, 2012 at 10:14 PM
It's not just the fact that you hide behind a screen name that indicates you believe that you know all the answers, but I also reject your assumption - yes, assumption, not a truth - that all people are evil. Certain ones, perhaps, but behavior that was considered evil in other times has now been proven to stem from physical brain abnormalities. That is, illness just as real as cancer or heart disease or Parkinson's, but because it affects the brain and behavior, was once considered possession or other such nonsense. There is nothing wrong with fear, as long as it is not all-consuming; it is a healthy, natural defense mechanism that helps to keep us alive and unhurt in many circumstances.
mark smerkanich December 18, 2012 at 10:55 PM
If you believe that prevention is the best medicine, then you might agree that UDSD made the right call. Being a bit paranoid after what happened in Connecticut last Friday seems like a completely rational reaction given the copy-cat syndrome we've seen. A healthy dose of paranoia is not bad in this instance and it doesn't mean the government is taking over the guidance of our children. We adults need to turn our efforts elsewhere, like contacting our elected representatives and expressing our views on gun laws. Tell them what you think and what you want. Getting their email address is easy. Be heard!
Jason December 18, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Paula, in your response, you state that you are automatically discounting the opinion of anyone who uses the name "truthsayer". In acting this way, *you* are the definition of a bigot. An open-minded person can consider the ideas of others on their own merit without "judging the book by its cover".
Jason December 18, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Maybe an analogy to the human immune system is the perfect way to understand the dangers of erring on the side of caution. When this the human body errs on the side of caution, it is called an "autoimmune disease". One doesn't have to meet many rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, or colitis patients to understand how crippling "erring on the side of caution" can be for the larger society.
udsdstudent December 19, 2012 at 12:35 AM
As one of the students, I'd be grateful if no one formed any conclusions without the full picture. Udsd followed protocol correctly and I applaud them. Understandably anxiety must have been high over the past few days which is why they acted in the manner they did. They have 1400 students to protect, put yourself in their shoes. As for the students, an announcement was made that declared that we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, where we were supposed to be doing and that this was just a misunderstanding. There's no reason to file such ridiculous claims.
udsdstudent December 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM
I would like to inquire now if you yourself have seen the umbrella because if you are going to attack someone and question whether or not they have seen the umbrella you damn well better have seen it because that is not the umbrella that was used
Jeanne December 19, 2012 at 06:30 AM
udsdstudent I apologize for posting the wrong photo of the umbrella. It is what my udhs kid showed me and I mistakenly thought he had accurate info. I stand corrected.
Speaking Softly December 21, 2012 at 01:25 AM
If it makes you feel any better TRUTHsayer. I dismiss all your opinions for they are ignorant statements made out of emotion. None of you have the training or experience to accurately critique what happened. The real TRUTH, as with all situations, would be that some things were done well and others need improvement. Lets just hope the people involved spend the time and effort to know the difference.
JAG December 21, 2012 at 02:42 PM
grow up and see the real story.
Skye December 28, 2012 at 01:31 AM
To all the idiots saying this was a good thing - its retarded and it's the sort of hyper-vigilant police overstepping that has killed far more kids then the shooter at Newton - the thousands of kids shot over the years because they had a "gun" that turned out to be a toy or a cell phone after the cop who did it looked over the body. If you really want to live in a nation where you can be arrested for carrying an umbrella, move to China ... Stop encouraging this fascist bullshit in our own nation and claiming its to protect kids - it does the exact opposite.
mark smerkanich December 28, 2012 at 08:27 AM
If you make the choice to rant while making wild claims, I suggest you include statistics to back up your that hyper-vigilant police overstepping "... the thousands of kids shot over the years because they had a "gun" that turned out to be a toy or a cell phone after the cop who did it looked over the body. Sounds like another one of those urban legends said when there are no facts to back them up.

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