Just as New Martinsville School was about to dismiss its students Tuesday afternoon, the facility went into a cautionary lock down.
New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil said the 911 center in Cabell County received a call from a person who was concerned about a family member with a history of mental illness who said he was going to NMS to see a particular teacher.
"That was basically the comment that was made," said Wetzel County Prosecutor Tim Haught. "I wouldn't even necessarily call it a threat." However, he said, "out of an abundance of caution" they went through the lock-down procedure at NMS and he believes some precautions were taken at Paden City Elementary School and Magnolia High School.
Haught said there was never any specific threat by a bomb or a gun, or really any violence. "The person was never on school property to our knowledge. There doesn't appear that there was ever any direct threat to any of the students," Haught continued.
The person of interest never did arrive at the school, but the police did speak with him. "He was a very nice guy, a very happily-go-lucky guy," said Cecil, who added that the man did not have any weapons or anything threatening.
To Haught's knowledge, the individual at the center of the issue does not have a criminal history.
Cecil was very complimentary of how everything was handled at NMS. "The school officials and the teachers worked wonderfully today," said Cecil Tuesday evening. "Everything planned, they did, and the plans they had worked right down to a 'T'."
He further thanked the individuals who helped out at the school. The NMPD and New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department secured the area.
Perhaps Cecil's only negative comment about the situation was toward the parents who were obviously acting out of concern and arriving at the school. "I would encourage the parents to stay away when they hear of a possible incident," said Cecil. "They congest our safety zones."
In another school safety note, a situation at Magnolia High School on Jan. 23 prompted the postponement of the boys basketball game between MHS and Clay-Battelle High School. While Superintendent of Schools Diane Watt was unavailable for comment on the situation, authorities tell us there was not a bomb threat at that time.