Tate High Lockdown, Gun Search Prompted By Student With An Umbrella

February 14, 2018

A lockdown and a huge law enforcement response were prompted by reports of a possible person entering the Tate High School campus Monday with a gun. And now we’ve learned that the suspicious person was actually a student with an umbrella.

“My son missed the bus this (Monday) morning and walked to school with his umbrella in hand,” Wesley Whiteside said. “When he arrived at school another student was apparently talking with his dad on the phone and saw my son walking on campus ‘with a rifle’. He reported that to his dad who called 911.”

That phone call led to dozens of Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies responding to the school, working to clear each building make sure there was not a gun-toting individual hiding on campus. They eventually determined what had actually happened.

“We are going to take any report serious of a person walking onto a school premise with a firearm,” Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Andrew Hobbs said, confirming that it was ultimately determined that it was the student with an umbrella that led to a parent’s 911 call.

“When my other son called me and told me what happened I laughed because I thought this could only happen to (my son),” Whiteside said.  But then, I got a little scared and angry. What if some ‘concerned citizen’ with a real  gun saw my son with an umbrella and thought it was a rifle and decided to take matters into his or her own hands to ‘protect’ the school? Or, what if the deputies talking to my son thought he was reaching for a rifle when he went to retrieve the umbrella from under his desk?”

“Our officers are trained professionals and would not just shoot someone. It would depend on the actions taken by the person; those actions would dictate what officers did. They would not just shoot a person with an umbrella,” Hobbs said.

Whiteside said he is upset that pictures of his son and the umbrella were posted on SnapChat and other social media, but he had nothing but praise for those that responded.

“I’m just thankful no one got hurt from this misunderstanding. I’m thankful for the school administration at Tate and the deputies that responded,” he said.

There were no charges filed in the incident.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.


7 Responses to “Tate High Lockdown, Gun Search Prompted By Student With An Umbrella”

  1. El on February 15th, 2018 6:07 am

    The young man and father who reported this did the right thing! I can easily see how a long black closed umbrella being held by ones side could look like a rifle. Much better to err on the side of caution than say nothing and it be a real threat. Benefits of this incident was The school and our deputies had a real alert/shutdown drill. I’m sure the staff and students were frightened but also hopefully learned some do’s and don’ts. Thank you to the student and father who reported what they thought could be a real threat. Shame on Monday morning quarter backers for disparaging/snarky comments for the reporting of what could have been a tragedy. Instead we all should be grateful that is wasn’t a real threat and encourage students, parents and staff to be ever vigilant and not hesitate to report suspicious activity.

  2. Hoosier Daddy on February 14th, 2018 9:28 pm

    Watching the news tonight, in reference to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County…If you see (suspect?) something , say something!!

    It appears a lot of suspicions fell thru the cracks. Tragic.

  3. Bob white on February 14th, 2018 1:01 pm

    All umbrellas should now be banned

  4. Karen V on February 14th, 2018 12:02 pm

    This is how people get killed by false reports. Did the witness really think he saw a firearm. If so they really need their vision checked because it will rain again and people do carry umbrellas. I would hate for them to think they was inside a war zone.

  5. Mangler Malachi on February 14th, 2018 9:58 am

    The response reminds me of a scene from “The Blues Brothers” movie.

    “Hut! Hut! Hut!”

  6. nod on February 14th, 2018 9:58 am

    a little bit shall we say, quick on the draw. this young man could have been killed by this over zealous persons reactions. thank God nothing happened
    I think therefore it must be.

  7. My2Cents on February 14th, 2018 9:56 am

    That poor child to have to endure this for no reason.

    What angers me is that BEFORE they knew it was a child with an umbrella the school said there was nothing to be alarmed about. They said that an unauthorized person was on the school grounds but there was no gun. How would they know that if the suspect wasn’t apprehended yet? There needs to be better communication from the school.

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