LEE - The discovery of a bullet at Lee Middle and High School on Thursday prompted a near lockdown of the building, and officials have concluded the single round of ammunition was inadvertently brought to school by a student, according to officials.
For 50 minutes, the 375 students and 60 staff present were told to remain locked inside their classrooms and offices until the Lee Police Department investigated how the .22-caliber bullet ended up on the floor of the entry foyer.
The so-called "stay-in-place" order, unlike a lockdown, allows teachers to continue with their lessons and staffers to keep working behind secure doors.
Several students who hunt and target practice later came forward to say the shell may have fallen out of their pockets. One student said it could have possibly have belonged to him, said Lee Police Chief Joseph Buffis.
School officials haven't determined if the student will face disciplinary action, but they appreciate the teenagers and others coming forward.
"We are very grateful [that] the relationship the kids have with the school is good. They don't want to put anyone in peril," said Lee Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.
McCandless was en route to a meeting in Boston, but returned to the school when he was notified of the situation.
The tense-filled hour unfolded around 8:30 a.m. when a school custodian found the bullet and immediately notified school Principal Joseph P. Turmel who summoned police and the school's superintendent. Turmel instituted the stay-in-place directive about 10 minutes later.
Buffis and three Lee police officers arrived and conducted a search of school lockers, student backpacks and coats, and turned up nothing connected with the bullet.
The students and staff - all safe and sound - were allowed to proceed with the rest of the day at around 9:30 a.m.
Lee police praised Turmel and the high school staff for their handling of the situation.
"They followed the plan to a 'T'," said Buffis. "It was textbook."
"We were here within minutes and that's huge," added officer Adrian Kohlenberger.
As Lee High's school resource officer, Kohlenberger remained on campus for the rest of the school day to assure everyone remained at ease.