High School Locked Down Due to Threat Just Before Gun Violence Walkout, Prevents Student Protest

Updated| While students across the country walked out of their schools Wednesday as part of a movement to show solidarity for the people killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting, students at Grand Blanc High School in Eastern Michigan were locked in their classrooms.

Police said the school was put into "secure mode" due to a threat. Yet several students said their rights had been trampled on and believed that the lockdown was to prevent them from walking out.

"About ten minutes prior to the planned walk out our School Resource Officer (SRO) received information from a student that 'someone would get hurt' if the walkout took place," the Grand Blanc Police Department said in a statement. "The timing of the information was unfortunate in the fact that the SRO did not have time to follow up on the threat before the decision needed to be made."

Grand Blanc Chief of Police Brian Lipe told Newsweek that a student came up to the SRO "in tears" to report the threat and thought someone was waiting in the parking lot. He said police were dispatched to the school where they continue to investigate the threat.

"We didn't want to not allow them to participate," said Lipe.

Before the threat was made, the school had discouraged students from participating in the walkout. A message from Principal Michael Fray said walking out would result in a school infraction, according to The Flint Journal.

"As many of you know, there is a nationally advertised Student Walkout for today, March 14 at 10:00 a.m. We are NOT supporting participation in this walkout and any attempt to walkout will be considered skipping class," said Fray in the message. "We do believe in your right to assemble and are working with a group of students to provide an organized and safe walkout event on April 20th."

Student Corena Kalinin told WJRT, a Flint, Michigan ABC News affiliate, that she thought the school was silencing her and her classmates.

"It was very frustrating because it felt like our voices were being shut down on a very important issue that's facing us," said Corena.

Student Alex Zaliagiris tweeted that the lockdown was to prevent students from protesting.

After the lockdown ended, dozens of students had a sit-in outside the school's administrative offices.

Grand Blanc East Middle School, which is approximately 2.5 miles away from the high school told Newsweek that students there had an internal walkout, but were unaffected by the threat.

Grand Blanc Community Schools and high school administrators did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

This story was updated to include comments from the Grand Blanc Chief of Police.

Columbine High School student Leah Zunder holds a sign during a National School Walkout to honor the 17 students and staff members killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in Littleton, Colorado, U.S. March 14, 2018. Rick Wilking/REUTERS