An empty gun holster found inside Starpoint Central School shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday prompted school official to hold students on buses while police searched the school for a possible weapon. None was found, and classes resumed later.
In the midst of the school search, an off-duty Buffalo police officer alerted the Niagara County Sheriff Department that the holster was his and had been dropped while he was attending an athletic event at the Mapleton Road school last night.
Niagara County Undersheriff Michael J. Filicetti said that the small empty ankle holster was found prior to the school opening, and Starpoint officials called the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department.
“They implemented their security procedures. We had guys there to check the school for anything out of the ordinary or the gun itself,” said Filicetti. “We did get a call from a Buffalo Police officer who said he heard about what was going on because he has a child or children who attend school there and said, ‘I just realized it was me.’ ”
Filicetti said the officer told them that he grabbed a bunch of stuff out of his car and an empty holster was mixed in and fell from his grasp, but he didn’t realize it.
The holster apparently ended inside the high school when someone else mistook it for some type of “athletic knee pad,” brought it inside and placed it on a ledge inside the building, School Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan said. It was noticed before the start of school Wednesday, triggering the delay in releasing students from buses in order to conduct a “thorough search” of the school.
Information received from the police officer, that the officer had gone back to look for the holster, upon realizing it was missing, was verified by a surveillance video showing an individual searching the area, the superintendent said.
Whelan added that the district was sending home a letter with younger students to explain the entire sequence of events that resulted in school bus delays in picking up the elementary schoolchildren.
Filicetti stressed the situation was properly handled and student safety was never in question.
“There was never any danger. There was never any problem. There was never anybody in jeopardy. It was just one of those things,” said Filicetti. The officer, he added, was not at fault and praised him for alerting them once he heard of the search.
“Having an empty holster, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It was just an accident,” the undersheriff said.
The site was cleared by 9 a.m. and students were back in classes, Filicetti said.