2 men found with Airsoft guns in Portage Ind., lockdown lifted at schools

PORTAGE, Ind. (WLS) -- Portage Police located two young men who were carrying Airsoft guns through the city earlier Thursday and the police chief said they had no "ill intentions."

But the men's actions frightened residents, forcing several to call 911. And after those reports, the Portage's police chief sent several officers, including others from outside jurisdictions, to patrol every school in the city. All Portage Township Schools were on lockdown during the incident. The lockdown has since been lifted.

In the end, police say it was two men with airsoft guns in hand who walked to the woods to shoot targets.

"They appeared to have had no ill intentions, however one was arrested for False Informing and the other subject is being brought back to the Portage Police Department for further questioning," Chief Troy Williams wrote in a statement. "We have recovered and confiscated their Air Soft guns."

With thoughts of the Florida school shooting on their minds, Portage parents were relieved to pick-up their children after school Thursday, especially after police tracked down two men who were carrying airsoft guns a mile away from one middle school.

"I was scared to death. I didn't know what to think," said BillieJo Cyprian, a concerned parent. "I texted my son to make sure he was all right."

In fact, several parents of Fegely Middle School students were worried, including Steven Henning. "First thing I'm thinking is do we have another Florida situation going down here," he said.

Chief Williams says both men are believed to be at least 18 years old. Police will be presenting their case to prosecutors to determine what charges, if any, will be filed against the men. It is not illegal to carry airsoft guns in Portage, but police are concerned at least one of the men provided false information.

The police chief said this could be a good lesson for parents and children.

This "would be a good time to have a conversation about being aware of events in America and that our actions have consequences," Chief Williams said. "We know this incident likely filled the community, school staff, parents and students with some anxiety, concern and maybe even a little fear."

Chief Williams praised local schools for enforcing safety protocols. The chief and superintendent of Portage Township Schools said they worked closely together.

"Safety is always the top priority for students - and today was just another example of how making sure how those things in place are so crucial," said Supt. Amanda Alaniz.

After school, parents were also pleased with the police and school district's response.

"I'm glad the way it was handled, how it was taken care of, how they kept everybody informed, and everybody is safe - and that's the most important thing, especially the kids," said Henning, who has two daughters at the school.

Along with calling in Portage officers, Chief Williams said Indiana State Police and Burns Harbor Police also provided extra security at some of the schools.
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