Belvidere North students recount confusion during lockdown over 911 threat

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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Students recounted the confusion and anxiety they felt after being told to shelter in place Thursday morning after a 911 call to police prompted a “safety concern” and lockdown at several Belvidere schools.

Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest said police received the call around 8:30 a.m.

Belvidere North, Belvidere Central Middle School, and Seth Whitman Elementary School were placed on hard lockdown and roads closed as police conducted a security sweep.

Some students from Seth Whitman had not made it to school at the time of the lockdown, and their bus was diverted to the parking lot of the former Shopko, 1400 Big Thunder Boulevard, before being driven to Lincoln Elementary School, according to Superintendent Dr. Daniel Woestman.

Freshman Haley Gordon said there was a fire alarm around 8:10 a.m., followed by a hard lockdown of Belvidere North around 9:05 a.m.

Students were held in their classrooms for nearly 4 hours while police conducted classroom-by-classroom searches.

“It was hard to go through this,” she said.

Sophomore Ryan Crane said, “Our teacher took us into a corner and we hid for about half an hour,” following the announcement of the lockdown over Belvidere North’s public address system.

“It wasn’t really scary. It was confusing,” he recalled. “We sat around in one classroom, in the dark…For about the first hour or so, it was almost dead silent [in the classroom]. Then, about half an hour later, everyone starts talking. The air of the room wasn’t really scared, it was more of ‘why is this happening?’

“At around noon, that’s when the police officers came around, taking us out of our classrooms to pat us down,” he continued. “They were going through the room, searching through bags and whatnot. It’s surreal.”

In an emotional message posted to the Belvidere School District’s Facebook page, Dr. Woestman said, “Unfortunately, we live in a time where this is now constantly on our minds,” while thanking law enforcement for their quick response.

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