A Massachusetts teacher is being held on bail after police say he left a live round of ammunition in a stairwell Thursday morning, which prompted a lockdown at Southbridge High School.
Alfred Purcell III, 57, of Woodstock, Connecticut, was arraigned in Dudley District Court on two counts of the unlawful possession of ammunition, two counts of carrying ammunition on school grounds, disturbing a school assembly, disorderly conduct, and disturbing the peace.
Police were called to Southbridge High School at 8:12 a.m. after Purcell told staff he had found one live round of 9mm ammunition in the rear stairwell.
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As a precaution, school officials immediately placed the school on lockdown and called police. The lock down lasted about an hour.
Upon a review of surveillance video, authorites said Purcell was observed standing in the stairwell and removing the live round of ammunition from his pocket. He was then allegedly seen dropping the ammunition on the floor of the stairwell and quickly leave the area.
Authorities said Purcell then returned 10 minutes later, where he stood over the ammunition and appeared to take a picture of it with his cellphone. Purcell then called to report it to school officials over his portable radio and returned to his classroom, according to police.
Southbridge Police Chief Shane Woodson said Purcell had been upset with the way another incident on Tuesday was handled. Woodson said some spent ammunition had been found at the school.
"He didn't think that we dealt with that incident in the proper fashion," said Woodson. "If you think we need metal detectors in this community and if you think there is any other safety issues in our schools you should go through the appropriate channels, the police department, the school, and we will rectify any situations we deem unsafe. This is certainly not the proper way to do it."
As part of the investigation, police searched Purcell's vehicle and allegedly found 102 live rounds of .20 gauge shot gun ammunition in his trunk. Authorities said Purcell's license to carry a firearm was also expired.
Purcell was then taken into custody.
Authorities believe Purcell may have been drinking during Thursday's incident.
"He denied drinking any alcohol but I believe did he consume alcohol," said Woodson. "Was he intoxicated? I don't believe so."
In court, Purcell's attorney said it was all a misunderstanding.
Authorities said Purcell had been disciplined earlier this year for not being able to control his classroom but school officials said no background checks alerted them to anything out of the ordinary.
"To have someone I hired to ensure a safe environment for our children to do something like this is abhorrent," said Southbridge Superintendent Jeffrey Villar.
The judge ordered Purcell held on $500,000 bail. He was also ordered to stay away from the high school. He is due back in court on June 24.