Nebraska City Schools were put on lockdown Thursday morning, April 26, due to the Otoe County Dispatch receiving a call at 10:06 a.m. from an unknown female thought to be at Arbor Lodge. The woman allegedly made threats about a middle school teacher to the dispatcher that led police to believe she was at the middle school. After securing the location, officials were able to determine the call came from inside the Nebraska City High School. All Nebraska City schools (Northside, Hayward, Middle and High Schools), NCECBVI and Lourdes Central Catholic schools were put on lockdown by law enforcement officials as a precautionary measure.
Students inside the middle and high school began texting their parents. An anonymous parent told reporters that she received a text from her child saying, "I love you mom," as a sort of "just-in-case" type of message. Police monitored the hallways while students at the high school took cover under their desks during the entire lockdown. Police searched the classrooms individually and told the students to stay in classrooms.
During the lockdown, a male high school student was escorted out of the high school building and taken by ambulance after suffering a panic attack due to the situation.
Once law enforcement officials cleared the high school, they started escorting Nebraska City High School students out of the building by classroom to the Bethel United Church of Christ at 2400 Central Ave. They debriefed each student and staff member before releasing the students to family members.
Students at all other Nebraska City public schools were told they had the choice to stay at school or could be released at 1 p.m. to their parents, whereas high school students and staff were not allowed back on the school property, even to get their vehicles.
During debriefing, parents stood behind caution tape in terror, not knowing where there kids were and if they were okay. Parents were outraged due to a perceived lack of parent/school communication on the situation, seeing as parents weren't notified of the lockdown until after 12:30 p.m. Local police replied to the worries and anger by stating they were simply trying to do their job. Otoe County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Riege gave a statement at the middle school by saying, "We can’t have parents running up to the door wanting their kids. That messes with our investigation and puts your life on the line."
Law enforcement officials report there was never an active shooter, no shots were fired, and there was no indication of anyone actually being inside the schools with a weapon. The Nebraska State Patrol does not anticipate any other arrests at this time. Police remained on scene at the schools while the situation was still under investigation.
The threats to the middle school teacher from the woman caught on First Corso were separate from the verbal threats the Nebraska City Police Department dispatch received from a high school student. Both threats happened back to back, causing law officials to think they were related.
“The call originally came from the high school because of direct threats to a teacher. We searched the building and we did retain the phone,” said Nebraska City’s Police Captain Lonnie Neeman. He told reporters, “It was a tough experience, and a good learning experience.” Police were able to ping the phone, and, from there, they were able to identify the student who owned the phone. There were city, county, air wing of the Nebraska State Patrol and other state officials involved. “It was a great effort by everybody,” said Neeman.
Nebraska City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Edwards stated in his press release, “We are proud of our school staff for following school training and protocol in responding to the threats and making our students’ safety their top priority.”
The Nebraska City Police Department posted the following on its Facebook page:
“We are investigating two separate incidents occurring at the high school and the middle school. Two people are in custody and we are continuing with this investigation. We will provide more information as it comes available. We are grateful all students, staff and all involved are safe. Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in this high stress situation. I sure wish it was like it used to be but we live in a different time. Thank you for your understanding as these things take time."