Police called for ‘active shooter’ after worker’s power tool mistaken for rifle

Published 10:38 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Reports of an active shooter that widely circulated through a small, North Mississippi town early Tuesday were false, but not wrong, according to Batesville Police Chief Jimmy McCloud.

“I would rather them call 50 times that wish they would have called that once,” McCloud said while updating the Mayor and Board of Aldermen about the incident at the Finch-Henry Job Corps Center on Hwy. 51 South.

An emergency call from an employee at the campus was logged at 7:36 a.m. and Batesville police were on the scene three minutes later. McCloud said the campus was secured and all students on staff were on lockdown status in less than five minutes.

Police quickly understood the caller had mistakenly believed she saw a man with a long gun standing in the doorway of a building. Officers found a power tool with a long extension bit attached that, when being held by a worker, resembled a long gun.

“The worker was in the dark breezeway of a building and she was about 60 yards away in the daylight. When he turned with that hammer drill and the bit she saw him and thought it something else,” McCloud said.

After she was interviewed and shown what was found, the caller verified it was the tool and bit she had seen, and the lockdown order was lifted. The campus was opened about two hours later, the chief said.

“We went ahead and searched every dorm room while we were there to cover our bases and no weapons were found,” McCloud told aldermen.

The Job Corps Center is located on 28 acres of land just south of Eureka Rd. on Hwy. 51 and has a capacity of 226 students. The center is made up of dorms, classrooms and library, a cafeteria, wellness center, gym and fitness areas, administrative offices.

Students are offered courses in nursing assistance, material handling and distribution, culinary arts, welding, bricklaying, painting, general carpentry, and other other disciplines designed to give graduates life skills that are marketable in the private sector.

This article was originally published in The Panolian newspaper in Batesville.