EVERMAN, Texas — Editor's note: The story has been updated to reflect that the minor was not arrested but instead released to the custody of a parent.
Law enforcement officials said two teenagers were arrested Friday after receiving information about a "credible and potentially imminent threat" at the Everman High School homecoming game.
The Everman Police Department said around 7 p.m. Friday, it received information from a Tarrant County Sheriff's Office deputy – who was off duty at the time – about a person who was currently on their way to the game with a firearm and "intent to commit a shooting once he arrived," according to Everman Chief of Police Craig Spencer. The deputy from Tarrant County also said the suspect had obtained the firearm earlier that day.
Everman Police send additional officers to the game once the department received this information.
"We had officers scouring the parking lots and at every entrance and exit into the facility," Spencer said.
Moments after they for the information, Spencer said a vehicle matching the description of the suspect was seen traveling southbound on Race Street toward the high school football stadium. A "high-risk traffic stop" was initiated on the vehicle and it came to a stop at the east gate of the entrance to the stadium. Two other police units joined the traffic stop.
Three people – an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old and a 10-year-old – were detained and there was an "AR pistol and a 60-round magazine" inside the vehicle, police said.
"It is evident that this individual was coming to do harm," the police department said in a press release. "The quick thinking and action by the Tarrant County Deputy who shared the information and the attentiveness and responsiveness of the officers who made the stop saved countless lives this evening."
The 18-year-old and 17-year-old have been charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Firearm in Prohibited Places, and the 10-year-old was released to the custody of a parent, the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office told WFAA.
Police said the 18-year-old was a former student who graduated from Everman High School last year.
Lawanda Walker has lived in Everman for 25 years and had a granddaughter at the game Friday night. She said she started praying and thanking God once she found out the police had stopped the driver before he got into the stadium.
"The first thing that ran through my mind was just to tell God thank you," Walker said. "We could have been a town today that could have been crying together. And with those that we don't know, we would have all really become a family last night because we could have all been lost."
Ismael Guajardo lives in Everman and found out what almost happened Saturday afternoon.
"It kind of scares me for the innocent people if something would have happened," Guajardo said.
Alex Welch, who went to Everman High School for a couple of years, was at the game Friday. He said he got there right around 7 p.m., which is when police first found out about the potential threat. He said the game felt normal.
"It didn't feel weird," Welch said. "There were just a lot of people."
Everman Police said the homecoming game had a heavy law enforcement presence already, but additional personnel was sent to the scene to assist. Spencer said there were initially 15-20 officers at the game. After the threat was stopped, he said there were about 35-40 officers throughout the rest of the game.
Spencer said his department did not stop the game because there was no additional threat once the three people in the car were detained.
"Officers were able to tend to this threat within moments," Spencer said. "There was no reason to incite any sort of unnecessary panic at the football game."
No other details about the incident were released. There was no threat to anyone attending the game after the arrest, Everman police said.
School security expert weighs in
“School security for athletic events involve a lot more than just hiring a couple of police officers,” said Ken Trump.
Trump is a National School Safety and Security consultant, who has been following the news out of Everman High School’s homecoming game.
“Time matters. These incidents can unfold in seconds,” said Trump.
Security experts say the number one way they find out about weapons, plots and threats is from students coming forward. They're asking teachers and school administrators to have close relationships with their students, if they already don’t.
“Have their ears to the ground, listening to what’s going on in the cafeterias,” said Trump.
Trump is asking parents to have a close eye on their children’s social media accounts and to speak up.
“Educators, safety officials need to be able to move quickly, you need to do that by planning, preparing and practicing,” said Trump.
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