Roanoke County school officials say a rapidly-developing series of events prevented them from issuing a timely message to parents regarding this morning’s shelter in place precautions at all county schools. Spokesperson Chuck Lionberger says they were preparing to do just that — until county police ordered full lockdowns at Cave Spring Elementary and Middle Schools:

All this followed concerns regarding a man reported to be driving around with a gun this morning after being involved in a family dispute at a Buck Mountain Road home. He was later taken into custody, and all school security measures were then lifted. It was not immediately clear what charges, if any, the man will face.


“On the morning of Sept. 6, at around 7:20 a.m., the Roanoke County Police Department asked us to place schools on a shelter in place as a precaution due to a report of a suspicious person armed with a weapon in the southwest portion of Roanoke County. As a further precaution, we decided to place all schools on a shelter in place because this person’s whereabouts was unknown. A shelter in place means students remain inside the building and continue the school day. This alert occurred during the normal arrival time for students, which created difficulties and confusion for students arriving at school.

“As we were working to make sure students were safe and secure while entering the building and gathering accurate information to send a message to parents, we received a report at 8:11 a.m. that the police department had placed Cave Spring Elementary and Cave Spring Middle schools on a full lockdown. Immediately we began to implement our emergency protocols to protect students at these schools. At that point, the safety of the students and staff at these schools was our top priority. About an hour later, we were notified that the police had apprehended the suspicious individual. Once we received the all clear from the police department, the police lifted the lockdowns at Cave Spring Elementary and Cave Spring Middle schools and we lifted the shelter in place at all other schools. We sent messages to parents that all incidents (lockdown and shelter in place) had been cleared. During this entire situation, all students were safe and secure and we thank our staff for professionally handling this situation.

“As with every such emergency incident, we assessed what worked, what didn’t work and modify our processes as needed. Ideally, we would have sent a message to parents about the initial shelter in place and lockdown. Our focus was on the safety of our students and attempting to process accurate information in an evolving situation.

“In any emergency situation, the safety of our students and staff is our top concern and we will continue to take appropriate actions out of an abundance of precaution. We believe that communicating with parents is important and we will continue to work to keep parents informed with accurate information as quickly as possible.

“We want to express our sincere appreciation to the Roanoke County Police Department for their swift response and detailed attention to keeping our schools safe and secure.”