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Police allege a 15-year-old boy brought two rifles to Atlantis Beach Baptist College on Wednesday morning, sending terrified children and teachers into a frantic lockdown as gunshots rang out in the car park.
WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said several shots were fired at one of the school buildings, which was occupied at the time, and police found the rifles in a black SUV parked at the school.
Students were reunited with their parents on Wednesday afternoon. Credit: Nine News Perth
The guns – a .243 hunting rifle and a .22 long rifle – were both licensed to the house where the boy lived, Blanch said.
“We found three shells, we believe three gunshots were fired and we know at least know one of them did hit a school building,” Blanch told media on Wednesday afternoon.
“As police commissioner, I’ve never seen an incident like that here in WA, or anywhere in Australia for that matter, in my time as a police officer.”
Blanch said the parents of the boy, who was not a current student at the school, were both being questioned as part of the police investigation. Forensics officers were also analysing the school and the boy’s home.
Having been reunited with their parents on Wednesday afternoon once the lockdown lifted, students at the private baptist college in Perth’s north relived the horrifying moment they heard gunshots fired.
They said they were told to “get down and be quiet” while police brought the incident under control.
“I was just going into my class and someone was saying there’s someone with a gun,” one student told Nine News Perth.
“I was scared. I was nervous. I just followed my class and went into the storage room and we just hid there for like half an hour.”
Another student said she heard the shots ring out before watching kindergarten children and teachers running for safety.
WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said he had never experienced anything like Wednesday’s events in his time policing.Credit: Nine News Perth
They hid under tables and in storeroom cupboards praying for up to an hour while they waited for the all-clear.
Blanch said he was “shocked” when he heard what had unfolded on Wednesday and praised teachers and students for their response, including the actions of a 12-year-old boy who called triple zero.
“We will certainly look into every aspect of this investigation to understand how a 15-year-old … is allegedly in possession of two long-arm rifles and has shot into a school in these terrible circumstances,” he said.
“I want to commend the school itself for the protocols that they put in place.
“I know on the police arrival they had a system set up where parents could go to a common point and get clear information about what was happening to their children.
“You can only imagine the frantic nature of parents arriving to know if their children were OK.
“They provided that information as quickly as possible. In fact, that SMS was sent out to parents to let them know they were OK and to come to the school.”
WA Premier Mark McGowan said he could not imagine what it must have been like for the children and teachers to hear the gunshots.
“I want to acknowledge the bravery shown by all the children, staff and parents at Atlantis Beach Baptist College,” he said.
“Thank you to the teachers, staff and police for their courageous and well managed response.
“These are scenes that we never want to see in Western Australia.
“Guns have no place in schools. Not in Western Australian schools nor in schools anywhere else.”
The incident is likely to reignite the gun debate in Western Australia and prompt scrutiny into how a teenager could get his hands on the weapons.
Since its reelection in 2021, the McGowan government has embarked on a hardline approach to gun control, including a ban on 56 types of high-powered rifles and 19 types of ammunition and introducing mental health checks for gun owners.
“As we have outlined previously, my Government is committed to reforming our firearms laws so it meets community expectations and keeps our community safe,” McGowan said.
The school is now closed for the foreseeable future while police investigate the incident.
The teenager remains in custody at Joondalup Police Station assisting police with their enquiries.
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