Update: Investigators believe Surfside gun threat was a hoax

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Surfside Middle School is locked down after a report of a gun on campus.

“All students are safe but a few minutes ago, the Panama City Beach Police Department received a report from someone that there was a weapon on our campus,” District officials wrote in a news release. “Beach police arrived immediately and we went into lockdown.”

Officials added that the campus was searched and a weapon was not found.

As of 2:30 p.m. officers continue to search the perimeter.

“We are not able to check students out while in a lock down and please understand we may not be able to answer the phone at this time due to a high volume of calls,” officials wrote. “Again, all students are safe and there are many law enforcement officers on our campus at this time to follow up on the report received from someone not on our campus.”

Then city officials said they believed the incident was a hoax/swatting call.

“Panama City Beach Police received a call shortly after 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, March 31, reporting that a child at Surfside Middle School was in possession of a gun,” city officials wrote in a news release. “Beach police responded to the school at 300 Nautilus St., and immediately placed the school on lockdown. The school building was searched and cleared. No child with a weapon was located and no gun was located. All children, faculty and school staff are safe.”

They added that they now believe the incident was a hoax/swatting call and that it remains under investigation.

Bay District officials released a statement at about 4 p.m. You can read it below in full:

Earlier today, the Panama City Beach Police Department received a call regarding a weapon on the campus of Surfside Middle School. Officers and deputies responded immediately to the campus. School officials, who were unaware of the initial call, immediately placed the campus on lockdown upon arrival of law enforcement, and an extensive search of the campus and perimeter was conducted. Parents and guardians were contacted via a LINK automated call and BDS updated parents via social media.

No weapon was found and the “all clear” was then issued by Panama City Beach Police Department.

According to a statement from the PCBPD, investigators believe the initial call may have been a hoax and they are continuing to investigate. BDS would like to thank all of the responding officers and deputies for their swift and thorough investigation and for the steps they took to ensure the safety of our students and staff. We understand this situation was terrifying for our students, parents and faculty and staff. We are disheartened to learn this may have all been a hoax but we are very grateful to know there wasn’t a weapon or a real threat.

Again, we’d like to commend, and thank, all of those involved this afternoon in securing our campus and ensuring the safety of our students and staff.

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