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Active shooter threat, lockdown disrupts Manual classes

Cheryl Ellis
Manual parents wait outside school to pick up their children after Wednesday’s lockdown.

Frightened students were clustered in the corners of classrooms for over an hour this morning while SWAT teams scoured the halls of duPont Manual High School, investigating an active shooter threat. Just minutes before, the students had been transitioning to their second block classes, unaware of what was to come.

At 9:19 a.m., Principal Michael Newman interrupted classes with an announcement to “Lock Down!” insisting “This is not a drill.” Students and teachers remained in their classrooms as LMPD and SWAT teams arrived to investigate an active aggressor situation. Police also investigated similar situations at Olmstead Academy North School as well as incidents at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington, Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville and Colerain High School in Cincinnati, and has since confirmed that there were no active aggressors at these locations. 

Maryam Fadhil (10, HSU) was in a cooking class when the chaos began. Fadhil said that students were very scared, however, her teacher calmed the class down while waiting for further instruction. 

“We stood there for an hour. It was in the dark, we didn’t hear anything,” said Adeline Elliott (11, YPAS). Elliott was in her math class when the lockdown started. 

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During the active aggressor lockdown, staff and students barricaded classrooms. (Kelsie Brown)

Students at the University of Louisville, near where Manual and Noe Middle School are located, received an email this morning explaining that the University Police Department (ULPD) was responding to the situation at Manual. 

“ULPD officers responding to report of an active shooter at DUPONT MANUAL HIGH SCHOOL,” said the UofL Campus Safety Alert sent around 9:31 a.m. 

The student lockdown at Manual was officially ended via an intercom announcement at 10:27 a.m. when Dr. Newman announced that LMPD released control of the building back to him. 

“LMPD received a call of an active threat in our building, and so therefore they came and they took over control. Once they were able to secure the building and ensure there was no active threat, they released it back to me,” said Dr. Newman in an intercom announcement to students this morning. 

After the lockdown ended, Manual allowed for students to be signed out from school. Exact numbers are not available yet, however Dr. Newman estimates that “over half” of the student body signed out and left school. 

According to posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) by LMPD and JCPS, schools in the district have been the target of “apparent swatting”, a form of criminal harassment where callers alert emergency services to a false situation. This was also the case in Lexington, Cincinnati and Evansville. 

Deputy Chief Steve Healy with the LMPD reported that the caller claimed to be a victim on the second floor of an active shooter situation, according to WLKY

The active aggressor warnings from UofL, LMPD and JCPS come just two days after YPAS organized “Enough! Plays to End Gun Violence”, a series of mini plays, two of which were written by YPAS students. This is not the first time Manual students have spoken out against gun violence. A previous Manual RedEye editorial from the spring demanded action on gun violence.

LMPD officers and SWAT officials clearing a French classroom at Manual. (David Schenk)

“Obviously, my heart goes out to all of our students and faculty that were impacted by today’s hoax. It is traumatic to have to hear the words that we have a situation and that we are now waiting on police officers to clear the building,” said Dr. Newman this afternoon in an interview with Manual RedEye. 

“We’re working to ensure that we have some additional counseling services for our students tomorrow in case they need it, as well as our teachers,” he said. Students can contact their counselors, and can expect trauma counselors to be available at Manual tomorrow. 

This story was originally published on Manual RedEye on November 8, 2023.