LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP — The report of a loaded handgun brought to Lawrence High School by a student on Wednesday morning sparked a brief but tense lockdown, according to school officials and township police.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m., school officials were notified of the issue and the School Resource Officer helped find the student in question, according to Lawrence Township Schools Superintendent Dr. Ross Kasun in a letter to the school community.

A loaded handgun was recovered and the 15-year-old male student was immediately taken into custody by Lawrence Township Police School Resource Officer Steven Austin, according to Lawrence Township Police Chief Brian Caloiaro.

That student was being charged with possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, possession of a firearm on school grounds and possession of a defaced firearm, Caloiaro said.

After the brief lockdown — once it was confirmed that there was no immediate threat — the school moved to a shelter in place, Kasun said, which allowed students to remain in their first-period class.

Lawrence police and members of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office then searched all student backpacks and belongings, school officials said.

Along with the help of a K-9, police said, a search of the school grounds also was carried out.

“Just for everyone’s information, the police are at Lawrence High School and there is no imminent threat at this time,” Lawrence Township Police tweeted just after 10 a.m.

While “there was no administrative directive to take away students' cell phones,” it was possible that some phones had been left in backpacks "during the search process,” according to a written update from Lawrence High School Principal Dr. David Adam, who said all belongings were being returned to students.

"After the search, the building was cleared and students were permitted to continue with the rest of
the day," the superintendent said.

By 11 a.m., Lawrence High School was fully cleared, according to a message on the school’s Facebook page.

Counselors were available to all students who needed or wanted to speak with someone about the incident.

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