A Code Red was issued at approximately 10:15 a.m. Tuesday at G.O. Bailey Primary School and the school was locked down for approximately 45 minutes.
Superintendent Patrick Atwater told The Gazette at approximately 10:50 a.m. Tuesday that there was never a threat to anyone and there was no incident at the school. He said that gunfire had been reported in the area of the school.
“We would like to thank law enforcement for keeping us abreast of what’s going on,” he stated.
Out of precaution, law enforcement officers with several local agencies were on the scene. Officials also canvassed the streets in the nearby neighborhood, Atwater said.
Once the lockdown had ended, an administrator at the school came out and told parents that the Code Red was initiated because of an incident that happened in the community but not at the school.
There were several parents at the scene ready to pick up their children before the announcement that the lockdown had been lifted. One parent told The Gazette that she had gotten a notification through the school system’s automated telephone calling system that the school was on lockdown.
The following message was e-mailed to local principals and posted to the local school system’s Facebook page Tuesday morning:
“As a part of our school district’s efforts to maintain effective communication and transparency, we are notifying our parents and community that as of today (Jan. 22), G.O. Bailey School was placed on code red lockdown based upon the recommendation of Tift County 911 and local law enforcement officials. The code red lockdown started at approximately 10:15 a.m. and ended at 11 a.m. Local law enforcement reported to us that an unidentified shooter was believed to be in the area of G.O. Bailey, but not on the school grounds. Law enforcement and school officials took precautionary measures to protect the students and personnel at G.O. Bailey.”
Tift County Sheriff Gene Scarbrough reported Tuesday in a press release that he, along with several Tift County deputies, Tifton police officers and Georgia State Patrol troopers, responded to the area of Ferry Lake Road and Newton Drive near G.O. Bailey Primary School at approximately 10:16 a.m. Tuesday.
Authorities were dispatched to the area by Tift County 911 after calls came into the 911 center from complainants reporting a male subject in the area firing shots into the air with a firearm, Scarbrough said.
He stated that his office advised Tift County 911 to contact G.O. Bailey and have them lock down the school as a precaution. Units covered the area and were not able to locate the suspect, who was described as being a black male by some complainants and being Hispanic by other complainants. The man was described as wearing a blue “hoodie-type” sweatshirt and blue jean-type pants.
There was no indication that the shots were fired in the direction of the school, Scarbrough said. He stated that there were no reports of injury or property damage. The investigation into the incident is continuing.
Scarbrough said that he appreciated all of the assistance from the GSP and TPD. He asks that anyone with information concerning this incident to please contact the sheriff’s office at 388-6021.