School officials say Middleton High lockdown was ‘challenging’ to secure students; teen could face charges

Police didn't find a weapon on the campus, after the school says the student made a series of threats to a staff member that made them think the student was armed

MIDDLETON, Wis. — The Middleton Police Department says the student taken into custody after a lockdown at the high school Monday is tentatively being charged with disorderly conduct, although the student did not have any weapons.

School officials told News 3 Now on Tuesday that the roughly-45 minute lockdown was “challenging” because it happened over the lunch hour when students were leaving and returning to the campus.

“We are an open-campus school and therefore, students were in many places inside and outside the building at the time,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Making sure all students were in a secure location was challenging because of this.”

Police say the 15-year-old student, who was previously misidentified by authorities as being 16 years old, was not on campus for most of the time Middleton High School was locked down. The lockdown happened after a staff member told a resource officer the student may have had a gun.

The student did not have a gun in their possession when they were taken into custody, and no weapons have been found anywhere, police said Tuesday.

RELATED: Middleton High School students describe tense moments during lockdown

News 3 Now is not naming the student because they are a minor, and the student has not been formally charged with a crime.

Inside the 45-minute lockdown

Scanner traffic during the lockdown reveals a tense 45 minutes after police called the lockdown around 12:30 at Middleton High. School officials said today that the student had made a “series of threats” to a staff member which led them to believing the student was armed.

“There is an alarm that goes off when we go into lockdown mode,” a spokesperson explained over an email Tuesday. “All staff assisted students with finding a safe space. Since the incident occurred during lunch, some students were not in the building at the time.”

For several minutes, police thought it might be an active shooter situation, scanner traffic indicated. At one point, officers said they had confirmation from two faculty members that the student was in a safe room with other students–it was a false alarm; it was another student with the same name.

“We didn’t get, like, an explanation,” one student explained. “We just all went under our desks and just kinda sat there waiting.”

Staff members followed all the correct procedures, the school’s spokesperson said. Some students left the campus after the lockdown lifted, and some were off campus while it happened, making it tough to get everyone to a secure place.

The school practices multiple safety drills every school year, with their latest one happening on November 18, 2021. Today, school officials met with police to assess the situation and determine whether any changes to their protocols were needed.

“We understand that students and staff were frightened by the events happening yesterday, but keeping students and staff safe is always our main priority,” a spokesperson said. “We have communicated to families that our counselors are on hand to speak with any student or staff member who needs to talk to a trusted adult or need help processing yesterday’s events.”

Clark Street Community School and Kromrey Middle School were also placed under lockdown, while Sauk Trail Elementary was put on a soft hold.

The investigation is still ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to call Middleton Police at 608-824-7300 or Madison Area Crimestoppers at 608-266-6014.