When a pistol magazine was found on the floor of Sentinel High School on Monday morning, officials began a rapid response based on long hours of drills and training.

MCPS Communications Director Hatton Littman said the staff at the school knew exactly what to do.

“We are very impressed with the professionalism of the staff at Sentinel High School, the administrative team, and the support that we received from the Missoula Police Department,” said Littman. “Anecdotally, we’ve been trying to reflect on the last time we experienced a lockdown of that length, and we feel that it may have been more than a decade ago.”

So, why did the reaction by staff and students happen so smoothly?

“We train for these types of scenarios all the time,” she said. “Our district and the state require that schools have eight drills per year and some of which need to be lockdown drills. We have very codified safety procedures and we practice them. Certainly, there were items we thought we could do better in the midst of a crisis situation, but we shared a sense of comfort and pride that people responded so well. From every single classroom teacher and staff member at Sentinel to the school administrative team to our district administrative team and support staff, and certainly walking out of the school as the students were dismissed and seeing the level of support around the campus from the Missoula Police Department, in addition to those officers who were supporting the school inside was quite incredible for the community.”

Dr. Ted Fuller sent a message out to Sentinel parents that contained the following:

‘During the lockdown, our initial search involved going from room to room searching every backpack and lunch box that matched the description.  Based on the results of that search, we determined that the best course of action was to dismiss school and conduct a more thorough search of the entire campus, including classrooms, lockers, bathrooms, and trash cans to determine if there was a weapon anywhere on campus.

Our dismissal procedures were tightly coordinated with the Missoula Police Department to protect and supervise students within the building and as they exited our campus.

The Missoula Police Department encourages anyone with firearms to always keep them secure and periodically verify all their weapons are accounted for. This incident is a good reminder to families to do so, and if they realized any firearms are missing, they should contact their appropriate law enforcement agency.

Our investigation continued today and has not led to the owner of the magazine. We have not uncovered any weapons or information that would further threaten the safety of the Sentinel campus.’

There will be a meeting for parents at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday in the school cafeteria. The public is welcome to attend.