Gun scare at Haverhill High School prompts push for security review

Gun scare at Haverhill High School prompts push for security review

HAVERHILL, Mass. — The gun scare that prompted a lockdown at Haverhill High School is now the safety focus of the school district and the City Council.

At Haverhill High, there are at least 37 doors, and that's 37 different ways to get inside and many parents and city leaders say that makes the school vulnerable, and last week's incident highlighted that.

A 16-year-old was arrested on July 29 for causing quite a scare on campus.

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"Lifted up his arms and people saw what appeared to be a gun," said Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini.

A school resource officer was notified and the teen was arrested within minutes, although a weapon was never found.

"But we have to presume, in this day in age, we have to presume the worst and we have to plan for the worst," Fiorentini said.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, the mayor and Schools Superintendent Margaret Marotta outlined how they are responding.

"All the doors are locked, there are cameras, there are security guards but whatever was being done, not enough was being done," Fiorentini said.

The concerns have prompted city officials to push for a review of security protocols.

The mayor says a security review was already in the works. But now, the city wants to hire an outside security expert.

"Certainly this incident tells us that we need to do more and have more conversations, I think the protocols out there say that we need to do more than just have conversations," said Marotta. "We need to drill. We need to do drills with teachers, and we need to do drills with students and we are planning those drills this year.”

Metal detectors have already come up multiple times as a possible solution to issues with open access points.

The idea is one that has been controversial in many cities and towns.

Haverhill is no different.

"I never thought the day would come that metal detectors would be discussed in our schools," said Thomas Sullivan, vice president of the Haverhill City Council.

The incident combined with recent mass shootings have left parents on edge.

"Especially with everything that’s happened recently, it’s very scary and I think everybody is on guard these days and we do definitely worry about our children in schools," said Kris Hanely.

"I feel like as a mother, metal detectors is not going to be a solution," said Mirca Mejias of Haverhill.

She said she hopes the schools focus on mentorship.

"If there is a hidden issue that is stuck as a bandage try to find a solution to the problem," Mejias said.

The juvenile who was arrested was not identified because of his age.