EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 3, 2013

Sounds of gunfire put school in lockdown

WINDHAM — Officials briefly locked down Windham Middle School yesterday morning as police investigated reports of gunfire nearby.

Superintendent Henry LaBranche said police received reports of shots fired in the woods behind the Golden Brook and Windham Middle School, though only the middle school was placed in lockdown as they investigated.

Police never confirmed gunfire.

“We never found the source of the noise,” police Chief Gerald Lewis said, “Not even sure if it was in fact gun shots.”

Lewis wondered whether it was construction related.

“The noise was confirmed to be off in the distance behind the schools,” Lewis said.

LaBranche said it was the second or third time this school year there have been reports of gunfire around schools.

People can be prosecuted in New Hampshire for discharging firearms near schools or homes when circumstances warrant.

Federal law also comes into play.

The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995 prohibits possession of a firearm where someone knows or has reason to believe is a school zone.

The law defines a school zone as the area within 1,000 feet of a public or private school.

It was the third time since the shootings in Sandy Hook last month that officials have taken such precautionary measures in Windham schools.

On Dec. 16, students were confined to classrooms at Windham High as police searched the building after a loud bang.

Then on Dec. 20, police were stationed at schools after a possible threat, later deemed not credible, surfaced via social media out of state.

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