When Seconds Count: How Page County Responded to a Report of a Gunman at a School on Friday
Written by Michael Phillips
Shenandoah Elementary School in Page County, Virginia went into lockdown yesterday following a report of a suspicious individual in the community. The school immediately contacted 911, reporting the possible presence of an armed male opposite the school. Law enforcement officials responded without delay, working closely with school staff to clear the school and ensure the safety of all students.
Following a thorough investigation, it was determined that no firearm was present, and what appeared to be a holster was, in fact, a knife sheath located on the individual's side. Thomas Benjamin Loving, 46, was charged with one count of possession of a knife on school property, which is a class 1 misdemeanor. Additional charges may be pending as the investigation continues.
Antonia Fox, the superintendent of Page County, praised the students and teachers for their calm and responsive actions during the lockdown. She expressed her gratitude to law enforcement for their prompt assistance and to the school's staff, students, and families for their composed response and careful adherence to the instructions of law enforcement.
During a press conference held outside Shenandoah Elementary School, Sheriff Chad Cubbage emphasized the importance of preparing for the unthinkable. He noted that his department's focus on training enabled law enforcement to enter the school immediately and clear it, in stark contrast to the lack of immediate response by law enforcement during last year's Uvalde shooting.
The Sheriff and his deputies have received praise from members of the community for their swift response, comprehensive training, and transparent communication from the Sheriff's office. One resident who claimed to live within blocks of the school spoke to a Breaking Through reporter at the scene, stating that "the Sheriff's Office showed bravery in entering the school immediately, unlike what we have seen in other places on TV." She added, "We saw today what we get in Page County for our tax dollars today with the Sheriff's response, and I, for one, am very thankful."
"We understand that today was a stressful and frightening experience for many of us, and we are all acutely aware of the importance of keeping our schools safe and secure. Our participation today and our preparations ensured that school staff and students knew what to do in the event of an emergency, and today they followed those procedures," said Fox.
While no firearm was discovered, the incident underscores the significance of having appropriate protocols and training in place for school districts and sheriff's offices across the United States. The prompt response and seamless coordination between law enforcement and school staff prevented any harm from befalling the students and staff at Shenandoah Elementary School.