WAKEFIELD — When freshman Christian Siose went to school on Monday, he didn’t know he would be barricading his classmates in a room to protect them from a suspected shooter.
But when a student at Northeast Metropolitan Regional Technical Vocational High School reported seeing a threat of a shooting posted on social media, that’s what he did. Though the report was false alarm, students spent the better part of the school day thinking it was real.
“I had to lift up desks, empty them, and build them up like Legos,” Siose said of the three hours he and his classmates spent barricaded in a classroom.
The Saugus resident said he was chosen for the task because he is the strongest and largest student in his class.
“Kids in the class were crying,” said Siose. “There were rumors there was a shooter in the school. People were saying there was a guy in the school with a gun, walking in the hallways.”
The school has had drills and talked about what would happen if a shooter ever entered the school, which eased his anxiety when it came to the real thing, he said.
The school was locked down at about 10:30 a.m. on Monday, according to Wakefield Police Chief Richard Smith during a press conference outside the school. Police were able to quickly determine that the school was safe and the threat instead targeted a school in Maryland with a similar name. For that reason, he said, officers did not sweep the school for a threat.
Students were released from the school for the afternoon after the lockdown was lifted at about 1 p.m., because their day had already been disrupted and parents wanted them home, said Smith.
Students at nearby Wakefield High School also sheltered in place during the Northeast Metro Tech lockdown, according to Smith.
“I want to emphasize there is no threat and no danger to our school,” said Superintendent David DiBari during the press conference. “But I am very proud that a student felt comfortable enough to bring her concerns forward and the procedures we have in place worked as designed today.”
Crowds of worried parents gathered outside the building and anxiously awaited the sight of their children trekking down Hemlock Road.
Christine Halley of Saugus said she received a text message early on from her son, who is a sophomore in the plumbing program.
“He just said that he was safe and don’t get nervous,” said Halley. “He said ‘I’m fine, but we are in lockdown.'”
Siose’s mother, Tracy, said parents received recorded phone calls to update them on the situation every half hour. She was grateful she heard from her son before hearing from the school.
“My son texted me and said ‘Hi mom, the school is in a lock down and I’m safe,” she said.
Siose said she was also pleased that students were released following the incident.
“At this point, I know he’s safe, but I want to see him and see that he’s safe myself,” she said.
Smith stressed that police would ensure the students would be kept safe when they returned to school on Tuesday.
Item Reporter Thomas Grillo contributed to this report.