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Gun scare sets off panic at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

Students huddled inside classrooms while worried parents gathered in parking lots texting their children. Police say they didn't find a gun.

BETHESDA, Md. — A gun scare at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Wednesday had teachers bracing classroom doors, students planning escape routes and parents racing to the school.

In the end, police did not find a gun, but the lockdown in Montgomery County was a haunting echo of the all-too-familiar attacks on America's schools. 

"I'm really terrified right now," said a mother standing in a parking lot texting her daughter through tears before the all clear.

Dozens of parents came together in a fearful vigil outside the B-CC High School, as they awaited more information. 

"It's horrifying, completely horrifying," parent Amy Doyle said, her voice cracking. "I had no idea how terrifying it would be."

School officials said the school entered lockdown around 10 a.m. due to a verbal fight in the the hallways between several students. One student texted his mom that someone had pulled a gun, and the principal ordered a lockdown. 

"The teacher just closed the door and put a chair in to hold it closed," 18-year-old Heman Daniel said.  

The lockdown was lifted shortly after 11 a.m. The school tweeted out a notice that all students were safe, and that school would dismiss at noon under the previously planned "early release schedule."

 "There're too many guns in this country," said Christo Doyle, whose 15-year-old daughter, Frances, was inside. "There's no reason a 17 year old should have access to a gun. Ever. We need to do something to change this."

Some parents said the incident was enough to convince them new communication plans are needed. 

"They need a 21st century, real time communication plan to communicate with teachers and students," Lyric Winiki, the Parent Teacher Student Association presoident, said. "Don't leave them without communication for well over an hour."

Montgomery County's prosecutor said authorities seized six guns from teens at Montgomery County high schools in 2021-- five of them untraceable ghost guns.

 "These are high school age kids," State's Attorney John McCarthy said. "We need them to work with us."

Starting Thursday, McCarthy is launching an unprecedented series of assemblies at every county high school, urging kids to report safety incidents, even if they do it anonymously. 

"They know things, many times about what's going on in schools that we don't know," he said.

Parents can opt their kids out of those assemblies. But the prosecutor says they're not anti-gun presentations. He says they're just about keeping our schools and our students safe.

RELATED: MCPS adds gun education to the lesson plan

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