New Prague police confirm that a 12-year-old student was taken into custody on Wednesday after reportedly making two false 911 calls claiming two people had been injured in a shooting at the New Prague Middle School.
TWO CALLS MADE BEFORE 8 A.M.
The first call came in at about 7:55 a.m., with the second following about four minutes later and offering more detail as to the location of the shooting, according to Scott County 911 Dispatch.
The caller told dispatchers he was inside one of the school buildings, Scott County Sheriff Kevin Studnicka said.
"He claimed he needed help because there was a shooter in the building with an AK-47 and that there were a couple of victims," Studnicka said.
When dispatchers asked for the caller's cell phone number, he claimed it was a new phone and he didn't know the number, the sheriff said.
SCHOOL PLACED ON 'CODE RED' LOCKDOWN
New Prague Area Schools Superintendent Larry Kauzlarich confirmed to FOX 9 News that the school was placed on lockdown after the incident was reported, as is standard procedure.
"Children's safety is always our top priority," Kauzlarich said. "This incident truly underscores how critical our 'Code Red' training has been."
By 9 a.m., investigators were confident that the call was a hoax. After going room to room, police took a 12-year-old boy into custody in connection with the false reports.
OFFICIALS CONFIRM NO GUN WAS ON CAMPUS
"At no time was there the presence of a firearm within the school," stated New Prague Police chief Mark Vosejpka. "The students and staff were never in any real danger, but it is important to note that our emergency response system worked exactly as it was designed."
Vosejpka didn't explain what led investigators to suspect the boy.
By Wednesday afternoon, FOX 9 News received confirmation from Marsh Halberg, of Halberg Criminal Defense, that his office has been retained to represent the 12-year-old. He also confirmed no gun was involved.
"On behalf of my client's parents, they wish for other parents to know that no firearm was actually involved and that it is safe for the students to return to school," Halberg wrote.
SCHOOL DISMISSED, TO RESUME THURSDAY
After the calls were determined to be false, students at New Prague Middle School were dismissed for the remainder of the day at 10:30 am.
Kauzlarich added that the experience was very frightening for many of the children, especially since this is the second such incident in the district this year. Two months ago, a student was expelled after phoning in a bomb threat.
"We were in choir at the time and went into the back room and locked the doors," recalled Gillian Duncan, a seventh grade student. "Our choir teacher was crying and everybody was talking because they thought it was a drill, but then the sheriff and police showed up and everybody figured out it was real and it was real scary."
In response, Kauzlarich said the school will have counselors and social workers on hand when classes resume on Thursday.
ALLEGED CALLER TO REMAIN IN CUSTODY
In a release, Halberg explained that police have been both professional and sensitive in their response and confirmed that authorities are not focusing on any other individuals at this time.
Halberg estimated that his client will remain in custody until a juvenile detention hearing takes place sometime on Thursday or Friday.
NEARBY COMMUNITIES HASTEN TO RESPOND
Emergency responders from the following communities responded:
Officers with the Minnesota State Patrol and deputies from sheriff's offices in Scott, Rice and LeSueur counties also responded.
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Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.