All Coffee County Schools were placed on lockdown Wednesday after Central High School principal Joey Vaughn received an email indicating that a gunman could be on campus, said Coffee County Director of Schools Dr. LaDonna McFall. Once the threat was received, Central High School was placed on full lockdown and, because the threat didn’t indicate a specific campus, the county’s six elementary schools and one middle school were placed on a modified lockdown. Police officers were also dispatched to each school, according to McFall.
“We have locked down the schools and police are at every school,” McFall said shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday. The lockdown was lifted at approximately 2:20 p.m. After the lockdown was lifted Vaughn deferred comment to McFall and McFall deferred further comment to law enforcement. However, in a text message McFall said, “person of interest in custody.” The Times hasn’t been able to independently verify if anyone has actually been placed in custody, only that someone was questioned. When reached for comment Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves said the investigation is ongoing and Manchester Police Department assistant chief Adam Floied said, “there is not much we can release yet.” Manchester police did release a statement on its Facebook page at approximately 4 p.m. Wednesday saying that a person of interest was being questioned and that the threat appears to have originated from Rutherford County. The Facebook post reads: “The lockdown of Coffee County Central High School and modified lockdown of other Coffee County Schools was lifted about 2:20 p.m. today. According to Coffee County Director of Schools, Dr. LaDonna McFall, an email was received stating there was a possibility of a man with a gun on campus. No specific campus was mentioned. As a proactive measure, all county schools were put on lockdown. The email appeared to originate from Rutherford County and a person of interest is being questioned. The Coffee County Sheriff’s Department and City of Manchester Police Department are investigating this ongoing situation” Floied added late Wednesday night that the FBI is assisting local authorities in the electronic portion of the investigation. The Manchester City Schools system, which consists of three campuses, was made aware of the situation but elected not to place its schools on lockdown. Director of Manchester Schools Dr. Keith Brewer said the district monitored the situation closely. “When we get a call like this, we determine if the situation is one that we need to go on alert or on a full lockdown,” said Brewer. We will report more on this story as we have information.