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Paintball gun prompted lockdown at Denver's Northfield High School

Two boys were taken into custody related to the incident, which happened on campus, according to the Denver Police Department.

DENVER — Northfield High School was closed for the remainder of Thursday after a report that a student possibly had a gun, according to the Denver Police Department (DPD).

"This situation, it appears that it is a paintball gun," DPD chief Paul Pazen said. "I cannot commend enough the student and the campus security officer for taking action. You need to get there immediately. You can't tell the difference between a paintball gun and a real gun."

Shortly before noon, DPD said a person was safely taken into custody at an off-campus location and a paintball gun was recovered. A second person was also taken into custody, DPD said. 

DPD said Thursday evening that both boys were under 18 and were students at Northfield. They were interviewed and released to their parents, DPD said. 

Potential charges will be presented to the Denver District Attorney's Office for consideration, DPD said.

Credit: Obtained by KUSA
This photo obtained by 9NEWS shows a person inside Northfield HS with what appears to be a gun. The item was later determined to be a paintball gun, according to DPD.

Denver Public Schools (DPS) was made aware of the threat around 9:30 a.m., according to Scott Pribble with DPS. As a precaution, the school was placed on lockdown, he said.

"We want to commend a student who saw something suspicious, saw something that looked like a potential threat and advised the campus security team," Pazen said.

Just before 11 a.m., Northfield High School posted on its Facebook page that the lockdown had been cleared. Students and teachers were released by classroom onto buses and taken to a designated reunification area.  All students were safe throughout the incident, according to the Facebook post

In an earlier Facebook post, Northfield High School said the incident appeared to be confined to Building 3, the gym building.

Parents were told to keep their students home if they were not already on campus.

DPS said Friday was the last day of the school year for Northfield students. 

Lockout v. Lockdown

A lockout and lockdown are different and have different implications for students and parents. 

Lockout 

A lockout takes place when there is a safety concern that is not an immediate threat to a school. For example, the police may be pursuing a vehicle in the neighborhood around a school, and the school’s safety department determines that the school should enact a lockout as a precautionary measure.  

In lockouts, students and staff remain inside the school building, and school activities continue as normal, with students and staff moving securely within the school. A lockout means no one comes in or goes out of the building. Students and staff are unlikely to notice a difference unless the lockout occurs near a transition time.  

Lockdown 

A lockdown takes place when there is a safety concern regarding a potential threat to a school. A lockdown will also be enacted if there is a perceived threat within the school. 

In a lockdown, students and staff are secured in the school, staff does not communicate and parents are not allowed on-site. Lockdowns are generally enacted when there is a serious threat. 

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