Shortly after 12:30 this afternoon, a 911 call came into the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center stating that there was a report of a person pointing a gun at a subject in the area of Tope Elementary School on N. 7th Street.
Officers immediately responded to the area to investigate and contacted the reporting party and the subject who said he saw the gun. While in the area, officers heard what they believed sounded like gun shots in the area of N. 7th Street and Orchard Avenue. Tope Elementary and Grand Junction High School were put into lockdown and law enforcement from all over Mesa County responded to the area, including the Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Fruita Police Department, and the Colorado State Patrol. The SWAT teams from the GJPD and MCSO were also dispatched to the call. A safety perimeter was set up in the area and N. 7th Street was closed from Bookcliff Avenue to Elm Avenue, and approximately a block east and west of N. 7th Street on Orchard Avenue. A shelter in place notification was sent to 2,611 residents in a half mile radius of N. 7th Street and Orchard Avenue. Officers contacted residents, conducted a safety sweep of the area on foot, and completed searches of homes in the area where officers believed the shots may have originated. No suspect was located and no evidence of a weapons violation was found. We are not aware of any other witnesses to the reported person with the gun.
Only when officers had searched the area and felt confident that the scene was safe for the schools and residents did they begin to clear the area and help transition schools back to normal operations. At approximately 2pm, schools were transitioned to shelter in place, and at 2:15pm, the shelter in place emergency notification to residents was released. Schools were released on schedule and officers remained on scene out of an abundance of caution, with an increased law enforcement presence in the area for over three hours from the initial call. It’s not lost on us that safety threats to a school can leave parents feeling frightened and unnerved. The added law enforcement presence is intended to be reassuring and to remind you that the safety of your kids is our priority.
We recognize how alarming these types of incidents are for parents, students, and faculty of our schools. Our community has made clear that they expect that law enforcement in Mesa County train, prepare, and collaborate for an efficient, effective response whenever there is a threat to our schools, real or perceived. That’s what happened today. We train and work with law enforcement partners and with the Mesa County Valley School District to make sure that we have plans in place to quickly respond and protect. We encourage parents to view the school safety video that was created this year to share what’s happening in your child’s school during a shelter in place or lockdown. The video also talks about what to expect from law enforcement, and what we ask of parents as these situations unfold. We appreciate your patience and support.