Metro-East News

No weapons found at Belleville West following police search, superintendent says

Belleville West cancels class after report of student with weapon

Cars line up as classes were canceled for the day Monday after authorities received a report that a Belleville West High School student may have had a weapon on campus.
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Cars line up as classes were canceled for the day Monday after authorities received a report that a Belleville West High School student may have had a weapon on campus.

A day after classes at Belleville West High School were canceled due to reports of a loaded gun on campus, police have said they didn’t find anything.

On Tuesday night, District 201 Superintendent Jeff Dosier left a voicemail for parents, telling them an extensive police search of the school yielded no weapons.

“We’ve worked closely with Belleville police and tried to take steps to ensure that every student remains safe at West,” he said.

Searches were done by police and staff both during the lockdown and after students were already dismissed, Dosier said. A K-9 Unit was also brought in and did not identify any weapons.

Around 11 a.m. on Monday, police were told that a student had brought a loaded gun to school and left it in his backpack. He then told authorities that an unknown person had searched his backpack and that the gun was missing. The school was placed on lockdown before students were dismissed room by room as a precaution.

Classes resumed Tuesday, but with an increased police presence that will continue into Wednesday as well, Dosier said.

In the voicemail, Dosier told parents that the school is still working with the police department to investigate the situation and punish anyone responsible, whether the threat was real or not.

“If a weapon was brought onto campus, that would be subject to disciplinary consequences or if someone gave us misleading information, that would also be subject to disciplinary consequences,” he said. “Obviously we can’t have students thinking it’s OK to bring a weapon onto campus or even say that they’ve done it. That’s not going to be accepted.”

The dismissal on Monday was in “abundant caution” that an armed person was in the school, school officials said.

“The dismissal was orderly, and law enforcement personnel were present with the students in the hallways as each classroom was dismissed. The investigation into this matter is ongoing, and BPD detectives continue to interview several juvenile subjects involved in this incident,” police wrote in the release.

Police were told about 11:15 a.m. Monday that someone may have a loaded gun on the campus at 4063 Frank Scott Parkway West.

Students who had a car were allowed to leave campus while students who were waiting for a parent to pick them up or for their bus to arrive were asked to wait in the school’s theater.

“Rest assured that no student will be forced to leave without a parent to pick them up,” Principal Rich Mertens said.

Police investigated an alleged threat against Belleville West in mid-December, after multiple people had overheard a student make the threat and then posted about it on social media.

It was later deemed not credible.

The school district just “tries to stay ahead” in situations like these, Dosier told the BND at the time.

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Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.