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Bethlehem put on ‘soft lockdown’ after shooting threat

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By Randy Patrick

Bethlehem High School students sheltered in their rooms late Friday morning for about 10 minutes after a former student got inside the school by a back door and said — apparently as a joke — that she was a school shooter.

The incident happened about 11:35 a.m., according to Mary Ann Downs, the school’s academic dean.

The 19-year-old student and her younger sister had attended Bethlehem until about two years ago when they transferred to Bullitt East High School. She had come to visit her old classmates, who would have been her graduating class, because, she said, she was moving to New York and wanted to tell them goodbye.

Principal Tom Hamilton said she had seen a group of students out back behind the school during their free time during lunch and homeroom period, and was talking with her friends, and when they went inside, she grabbed one student by the arm and walked in with them.

“We never really had a problem with her, but today she came in the back door, which she knows she’s not supposed to do, and when she walked in, she said, she jokingly said something about being a school shooter,” Hamilton said. “The kids she walked in with, some of them knew her and some of them didn’t, so they reported that to the teachers immediately.”

Hamilton said Downs at once escorted the student outside, and a student witnessed her get into a dark gray car and drive away.

“She was talking with a few of them when I escorted her out,” Downs said.

The principal said the school was placed on “soft lockdown,” meaning the students were in their classrooms with the doors closed and someone from the school was watching all the exits.

“A full lockdown is we lock the doors and hide — barricade. We didn’t do that because we knew she was out,” Hamilton said, but he and others wanted to make sure no one was still on campus who shouldn’t be.

Later, he said, the girl called Hamilton at the school.

“She apologized and said she made a mistake,” Hamilton said.

He admonished her that she shouldn’t make a joke about something like that.

“She said, ‘I know. I was just trying to be funny,’” he said.

Hamilton called the Bardstown Police Department about 1 p.m. so they would be aware of what had transpired.

“I wanted the authorities to know what I knew,” he said.

Some people already knew because students were posting about the incident on social media, Downs said.

“I appreciate everybody’s concern,” said Hamilton. “I didn’t get the feeling that the kids were unduly alarmed.”