WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket Regional High School was locked down and intensively searched by police yesterday after a student was seen with what was initially thought to be a real gun.
The gun turned out to be a replica prop from the drama department, but within minutes the situation escalated. The student, a senior with a developmental disability known as Aspergers Syndrome, was arrested for assaulting a police officer and bringing a pocket knife onto school grounds.
And in accordance with their security protocols, police conducted a thorough search of the school that involved several police departments and police dogs. Police from West Newbury, Newbury, Salisbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Merrimac, Groveland, as well as Massachusetts and New Hampshire state police were called in to assist.
“Students were moved from certain sections of the school to other sections of the school while the school was being searched,” West Newbury Police Chief Lisa Holmes said. “The entire school was searched — interior and exterior, including the roof.”
The search revealed no threats, and classes were allowed to resume later in the day.
The student, Allen Stevens, 18, of 13 Winter St., Merrimac, was arraigned in Newburyport District Court yesterday on charges of carrying a dangerous weapon on school grounds (a pocket folding knife); assault and battery on a police officer, disturbing a school assembly, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.
Judge Peter Doyle ordered him held on $5,000 cash bail at an infirmary until bail can be posted. When out, Stevens was ordered to not go near the high school, unless school officials say he can.
According Assistant District Attorney Michelle Belmonte, a student saw a firearm in Stevens’ backpack and told a school assistant principal, who followed protocol and contacted police. Police arrived, and took Stevens away to search and question him. During that time, Stevens was uncooperative, fighting police as they tried to subdue and search him, particularly when trying to search his pocket. During the tussle, police had Stevens on the floor and he kicked West Newbury officer Monica Carnes in the chest with his foot.