Fake gun scare sends Warwick school into lockdown
A GUN threat sent a Warwick school into lockdown yesterday as a man strolled nearby streets with what was believed to be a firearm.
At 11.10am, police were alerted about a man armed with a weapon at an address close to Warwick West State School.
Police quickly contacted school authorities, requesting it be put into lockdown as a safety precaution.
Upon arriving at the scene, officers soon realised it was not a operational gun, but a gel blaster.
Senior-Sergeant Shane Reid said the weapon was "very realistic looking" and he thanked members of the public for contacting Warwick police so promptly.
"Currently gel blasters are being manufactured to identical standards of actual firearms, therefore they are realistic looking and police treat any reports, until proved otherwise, as if it is a operational firearm," Snr-Sgt Reid said.
The man, 26, was charged with one offence under the Weapons Act, for carrying a weapon exposed to view in a public place.
While Snr-Sgt Reid said it was unclear what the alleged assailant intended to do with the weapon, he warned that offences like this could still have serious legal ramifications.
"People who possess a gel blaster should be aware they are defined as weapons under the weapons act and offences may be committed with gel blasters, exactly as if they were operating weapons," he said.
The school lockdown was soon lifted at 12.35pm as principal Jason Callcott sent out an email and Facebook post, alerting parents about the incident.
"I want to reassure you that we treat the safety and welfare of your children, our students, and our staff as our highest priority," Mr Callcott said.
"The school is able to provide guidance support for anyone who requires it. If you would like this arranged for you child, please contact the school.
"I understand there may be some concerns from parents in the school community in relation to this matter and I welcome you to contact me directly to discuss any issues."
Parents were grateful for the prompt alert although many were unaware of the potential gravity of the threat.
Parent Dennis Perren said he was initially shocked when he received news of the lockdown but didn't know what caused it.
"I went 'wow, what's going on?" he said.
"It's a bit of a shock. I just hope my children didn't get stressed or too worried.
"It's not something you like to see or hear about and it does worry you and make you go 'OK are there going to be more of these?' "
Mr Perren was satisfied with the school's response.
"I was pleased the principal was quite willing to answer questions," he said.
•The alleged offender will face the Warwick Magistrates Court at a later date.