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Stray bullet found in front of a Starpoint elementary school

PENDLETON – Starpoint schools were searched by the Niagara County sheriff department and the school was put in “lockout” mode, closing all doors to the public, after a bullet was found in front of the elementary school and a bullet casing was later turned in by a student in the middle school this morning. The two findings do not appear to be related, according to Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan.

Whelan said the .22 caliber bullet was found by a parent near the flagpole at the school on Mapleton Road just before 10 a.m. today in front of the Fricano Elementary, a building for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“We contacted the sheriff’s department and decided to do a lockout for Fricano and Regan Middle school [since the buildings are connected.] Our buildings and grounds people did a complete search outside and found nothing, but decided to do the lockout and shelter in place, where students remained where they were in classrooms, and then brought in the sheriff department with police dogs to canvas lockers and hallways in both the elementary and middle school,” Whelan said.

He said while the search was ongoing a middle school student went to the principal and said a friend had a bullet casing, a shell, and heard that we were inspecting, so he hid the shell in the bleachers of the middle school gym.

Whelan said the shell was retrieved and the search and lockout was expanded to the entire campus.

He said the search and lockout ended at about 1:30 p.m. and nothing was found in the school.

“It’s a very serious situation and we wanted to put in place the procedures to make sure everybody was safe,” Whelan said. “We are glad that nothing else was found.”

He said a letter went home with all the students to inform their parents about what happened and Whelan said some parents, who were texted by children, also spoke to school staff.

Whelan said the investigation is expected to continue, but said the Niagara County Sheriff Department believes the school did everything necessary. Whelan said the sheriff’s office did not believe that the bullet found in front of the elementary school and the casing taken to the office were related.

“I’m grateful that the people in the building took immediate action to search everything and make sure everything is safe,” Whelan said.