Police ordered precautionary lockdown at Tamaqua schools
JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua Police Chief Dave Mattson (center) speaks with State Police troopers near Willing Park on Spruce Street. Police cleared an incident during which Mattson ordered a lockdown of Tamaqua schools, but an investigation revealed no threat, and no arrests were made.
There were two lockdowns of Tamaqua Area School District facilities Friday morning.
The first was a routine, scheduled procedure.
The second action, however, came at the request of Tamaqua Police Chief Dave Mattson, who was investigating an incident in the borough.
After it was determined there was no threat from the latter, the district returned to classes and completed the school day.
Tamaqua Area Superintendent Carol Makuta said the first lockdown involved a routine search of facilities by the Pennsylvania State Police drug dogs, something the district does a number of times each school year.
Soon after that, Tamaqua Police ordered a precautionary lockdown of the district's facilities in the borough, including Tamaqua Area High and Middle Schools, Tamaqua Elementary School and the administration building.
"At that point, we were informed there was an incident in the community police were attending to," said Makuta. "They then alerted us when the community was safe."
According to reports, including phone calls to THE TIMES NEWS, a man with a rifle had been spotted at a downtown mini-mart.
Around noon, Mattson and State Police troopers were at the end of Spruce Street, in the vicinity of Willing Park, on the car wash parking lot. At that time, Mattson indicated the incident had been cleared.
"There was no crime committed and no charges are being filed," said Mattson.
A short press release from Tamaqua Police issued Friday afternoon did not reveal much about the nature of the incident.
"At 10:30 a.m., due to circumstances and information provided to the Tamaqua Police Department, as a precaution, Chief Dave Mattson ordered a lock down at the Tamaqua Schools," the release said. "At 11:30 a.m., upon verifiying that there was no threat, schools were re-opened."
Makuta prepared a letter for students to carry home to their parents regarding the lockdown situation.
The letter was also posted on the district's Website (www.tamaqua.k12.pa.us).
The text of Makuta's letter said:
"Today at approximately 10:50 a.m. building lockdown procedures were initiated at the Tamaqua Area High School, Tamaqua Area Middle School, Tamaqua Elementary School and the Tamaqua District Office from the direction of local and state law enforcement. An incident had occurred in the Tamaqua Borough that required immediate attention.
"After law enforcement indicated that the community was once again safe, the building lockdown ended and the state of the school environment returned to normal. This occurred at approximately 11:45 a.m.
"During our building lockdowns the students, faculty and staff were restricted from leaving the school building, restricted to classrooms and in some cases, may have gathered in safer locations. This was done to ensure the safest possible atmosphere for all involved. Student and staff response was swift and accurate.
"Announcements were made to inform students and staff of the status of events when appropriate.
"I would like to thank our students, faculty and staff for their cooperation during these circumstances. Their assistance aided in the successful completion of this situation. Additionally, members of law enforcement are to be applauded for their timely and focused response.
"Should you have any questions or concerns regarding today's building lockdown, please contact me through the school district's administration office at (570) 668-2570. Sincerely, Carol Makuta, Superintendent, TASD."