Knife, not gun, found during search at Ambridge High School in Beaver County

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An investigation of a possible gun at Ambridge High School in Beaver County this morning ended instead with police finding a knife.

Police Chief James Mann said a school resource officer contacted him about 10:46 a.m. to inform him that some students and a school resource monitor spotted the message, "I have a gun," written in pencil on the wall of a first-floor boy's bathroom.

Police and school officials placed the school on lockdown, meaning students could not leave the rooms where they were. Police from four additional departments -- Harmony, Baden, Conway and Economy -- and K-9 officers attending training in Beaver County searched the school building and students' backpacks.

They did not find a gun or any drugs. In one student's backpack, they found a kitchen knife that was 14 or 15 inches long, the chief said.

The student, a 15-year-old boy, was charged as a juvenile with risking a catastrophe, bringing a weapon onto school property and disorderly conduct and taken to a juvenile detention facility in Steubenville, Ohio.

"According to him, he was involved in some type of fight or altercation a couple months ago and he apparently has been bringing it to school ever since. He said, 'I forgot it was in my backpack,'" the chief said.

Chief Mann said he did not have any indication that the teen had threatened anyone with the knife. "Basically, he was a victim of the circumstances...We're glad we found this knife. We're going to set an example with this kid."

Chief Mann said police began the lockdown about 10:50 a.m. and ended it around 12:15 p.m.

School district superintendent Cynthia Zurchin in a statement thanked the Ambridge police department for their response.

"My heart sank when notified of today’s incident, but I knew our staff and students were prepared to manage this stressful situation," she said.

Liz Navratil: or 412-263-1438. First Published May 21, 2014 12:07 PM

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