Fallston High School and Fallston Middle School were placed on lockdown Friday morning following a report of a suspicious person in the area.
A caller from the neighborhood reported seeing someone who might be carrying a rifle, but a search of the area did not find anyone, Eddie Hopkins, spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said around 11:30 a.m.
Parents of students at the neighboring schools on Carrs Mill Road were informed of the lockdown shortly after 10:30 a.m. in an Alert Now message from the Harford County Public Schools director of communications Teri Kranefeld: "Good morning, this is Teri Kranefeld, calling parents of students at Fallston Middle and Fallston High schools on behalf of Principal Joe Mascari and Principal Rick Jester. In an effort to keep you informed of situations occurring in our schools, I am calling to notify you that Fallston Middle and Fallston High executed a lockdown this morning as a precaution for a reported suspicious individual in the area."
"A lockdown means that students are prohibited from traveling the hallways, students and staff are prohibited from traveling outside the building and visitors are not permitted to enter the building during the lockdown," the message continued. "This procedure allows for our students to remain in a safe, contained environment while they continue with instruction as normal. Law enforcement immediately investigated the report and it was determined the area was clear and it was safe to lift the lockdown."
Kranefeld said the lockdown was ordered on the advice of the sheriff's office.
"The school resource officer, local law enforcement and the HCPS chief of security investigated the report and found the area to be safe; at that time the lockdown was lifted," she wrote in a follow-up e-mail to The Aegis. "Parents of both schools were notified of the lockdown via the automated phone system."
Hopkins said the call for service log showed a caller from the 1100 block of Sturbridge Drive reported a possible an armed subject at 8:50 a.m. on a foot path used by students between Sturbridge and the high school a short distance away.
"The caller said they saw a male subject who looked like he may have had a rife slung over his back," Hopkins said, reading from the log. The person was described as a man wearing a dark jacket with the hood up and jeans.
Several units were dispatched to search the area, Hopkins said, but did not find anyone. The search was called off and the last unit cleared the area at 9:48 a.m., about an hour after the call was received.
Hopkins said deputies talked to neighbors and one of the radio transmissions from the scene indicated the possibility that the person who was seen may have been a student who was late for school and carrying a lacrosse stick in a backpack.
In any case, Hopkins added, school officials and police responded appropriately.
The school is in a wooded area, he noted, and people living in the neighborhood hunt, "but you don't want to take chances with a report like this; it's better to be safe and err on the side of caution."