Lockdown at High School “A Sick Joke”

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My phone and text messages were lighting up on my way to work yesterday. From family, friends and co-workers. They all wanted to know basically one thing: “Do you know what’s going on Mark?” And I could sense fear in their voice and words. And after Sandy Hook, Columbine and far too many school shootings in between, who could blame them.

The first barrage of texts messages came from my youngest son, Tommy, who’s a junior at Tulsa’s Union High School:


“They are all in closets”

Not long after that message, I got a group message from my wife and one of my boy’s away at college. I could also smell the fear in their words, even though they were miles away from what was happening:

  • Son: “Shooter on campus at Union?”
  • Wife: “Yes. Mark, people are calling me. What’s going on?”
  • Son: “They are all in closets. Are police there?”

Yes they were there. And lots of them. As soon as I walked into the newsroom I could hear the police scanners at full blast. The high school was on lockdown. No one in. No one out. What was going on? I’m sure most, if not all, of the thousands of students, teachers and parents were thinking of the Sandy Hook elementary shooting just three months ago, and those old enough, the Columbine massacre in the 90’s. In fact, one of the first reports we heard were kids on campus in trench coats. Didn’t the Columbine shooters wear trench coats?

Tulsa County Sheriff's spokesman briefs media during school lockdown

Tulsa County Sheriff’s spokesman briefs media during school lockdown

“Get back in that room”

By now, police and sheriff’s deputies were sweeping the school, floor by floor, room by room. One of my son’s friends opened the door to his classroom and was greeted by a SWAT guy toting an AR-15. “Get back in that room,” he barked.  Then we heard the real reason for the panic. It was all a horrible hoax. Here’s an excerpt from a ktul.com story:

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s office reports that an AT&T operator alerted law enforcement that she had received an internet call placed from a person claiming to be a Union Student. The caller gave information suggesting that there were two individuals in the building, one with a gun and one with a bomb. The caller indicated that they had heard shots and heard a large amount of screaming coming from an area within the school.

“A sick joke”

As one parent put it, “A sick joke.” 45 minutes later the lockdown was lifted. No one was hurt … physically. However, whoever played this pitiful prank inflicted plenty of emotional pain. Here are a few soundbites put together from the ordeal. Listen carefully to the father at the end. His words and emotions pretty well sum it up.


A sick joke indeed. Authorities and school officials handled the situation perfectly. Unfortunately they’re getting a lot of practice.

2 Comments on “Lockdown at High School “A Sick Joke”

  1. My granddaughter was in class. Thank you KTUL, Mr. Bradshaw, TPD, TCSO….etc. for not worrying about RATINGS and getting this on the air as fast as you did. She said the cell phones going off all thru out the school, some on vibrate, some not were FRIGHTENING.

    • Thanks Monica. We certainly live in much different times today. So many cell phones, and news and communication is almost instant. Parents and children reaching out to each other in moments like this. I’m thankful it was “only” a hoax.

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