DUBUQUE, Iowa -A parent called Washington Middle School in Dubuque Thursday morning to warn administrators a student had a gun inside a backpack. That phone call prompted administrators to contact police and put the school on lockdown for a little more than an hour. Police found an air-soft pistol inside that backpack.
While students were locked inside, a team of officers and a K-9 Unit searched the entire building. Investigators ended up finding three more B-B guns. Administrators say even though those guns aren't considered a deadly weapon, they believe they were justified in locking down the school.
Even side by side, police say looks can be deceiving.
Lt. Scott Baxter said, "you might not be able to tell the difference between the air soft weapon and the actual fire arms."
That difference wasn't clear for administrators at Washington Middle School this morning.
Dubuque Community Schools Director of Communication Mike Cyze said, "Initially not knowing that, we always follow the protocol to make sure we know what the situation is and deal with it properly."
The school district sent emails, made automated phone calls and blasted social media alerting parents of what was going on inside the school.
Some parents outside the school said they were glad the school took the extra precautions.
Piper MacRae-Egan said, "It makes you concerned and wonder what's going on because you don't have any control over the situation. You can't see what's going on. "
Mary Moody said, "When it's something like this, I am going to leave it up to them to make sure it's a safe place for my son to attend. "
Police say they don't believe the students brought the guns to school to threaten anyone or cause injury.
Baxter said, "It's got to be made clear to all students, you simply can not bring this stuff to school. "
Police say three different students are responsible for bringing those four guns to Washington.But authorities still don't know why they brought the guns to school.