Southbridge, MA – A Massachusetts teacher who caused a school lockdown by intentionally leaving ammunition in a school stairwell said he was just trying to show administrators that they should install metal detectors.
The incident began at approximately 8:12 a.m. on Thursday, when 57-year-old Southbridge High School teacher Alfred Purcell told school staff members that he discovered a single 9mm round of ammunition in the stairwell, Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson said in a press release.
The school resource officer and school administrators immediately placed the school on lockdown, then began reviewing security footage from the stairwell.
The video captured the moment that Purcell went into the stairwell, took the live round from his pocket, and tossed it onto the floor, Chief Woodson said.
He left the area quickly, but came back about 10 minutes later.
The biology teacher stood over the ammunition for a moment, then took out his cell phone and snapped a picture of it.
A moment later, he used his school-issued radio to request assistance at his location.
While police and administrators were investigating the incident, Purcell waited through the hour-long lockdown in his classroom with his students.
He was ultimately arrested at the school, and was taken to Southbridge Police Department (SPD) headquarters.
“During the booking process, PURCELL admitted to intentionally dropping the live round of ammunition in the stairwell,” Chief Woodson said in the press release. “PURCELL stated he did this to ‘prove to the school that they needed to get metal detectors.’”
He also said that rounds of ammunition had been found inside the school earlier the same week, but that school administrators didn’t do enough about it, WCVB reported.
Prior to the incident, Purcell had been told that his teaching contract wouldn’t be renewed for the next academic year.
He has been a teacher for approximately 30 years, WBZ reported.
Police noted that Purcell had a “faint odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath,” but he denied that he had been drinking, Chief Woodson said.
"He denied drinking any alcohol but I believe did he consume alcohol," the chief told NECN. "Was he intoxicated? I don't believe so."
Investigators later discovered 102 live rounds of .20-gauge shotgun shells in the trunk of Purcell’s car.
They also learned that Purcell, a Connecticut resident, had an expired license to carry firearms.
Purcell was charged with two counts of carrying ammunition on school grounds, two counts of unlawful possession of ammunition, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and disturbing a school assembly.
He was also ordered to stay away from Southbridge High school, WCVB reported.
"This individual acted in a disgusting manner,” Southbridge Superintendent Jeffrey Villar said. “I feel very badly for our students because it is an adult who failed them.”