Katy ISD: 'Zip gun' led to Seven Lakes High School evacuation

We now know what caused a scare at the Katy ISD school Monday, causing an evacuation and visits from the bomb squad and FBI
January 13, 2014 7:59:06 PM PST
We now know what it was that caused Seven Lakes High School in the Katy ISD to be evacuated Monday. And a student there is possibly facing charges.

According to a note sent to parents of Seven Lakes students from Katy ISD, a zip gun was found in the school, which led to the evacuation. A zip gun is a modified or improvised firearm. Charges are now pending against a student who was taken into custody and questioned.

This new information follows a tense day for students and parents.

"I was definitely freaking out," parent Shreya Shah said.

The email every parent hopes they never receive went out just after 10am. Katy ISD officials sent out a mass message, informing parents that Seven Lakes High School had been evacuated due to a safety threat.

"So I ran from my house to see," parent Naser Alhawamdehsaid. "I have two daughters here and it's scary."

That safety threat turned out to be much more. Officials tell us a male student brought in a suspicious backpack a the zip gun in it.

While about 3,600 students evacuated to the nearby football and baseball fields, members of a SWAT team combed through every inch of the building trying to determine if the threat was real.

The Houston Police Department bomb squad was called out to look at the backpack and make a full sweep of the school. The FBI also has sent special agents to assist HPD, Katy PD, Katy ISD police and the Harris County Sherriff's Office in the investigation.

"Suffice it to say, it was something to cause enough concern that we evacuated the building," Katy ISD spokesperson Steve Sanford said. "It's not something that you would find in our building every day."

The students tell us they first thought the evacuation was due to a fire drill, but they quickly learned it was more serious.

"It was so scary," student Abby Kotarsky said. "I didn't know what to do. All my friends were freaking out as well and we didn't know, like, when we would be able to go home, and we all just wanted to go home."

It wasn't for another three hours that students were moved to the junior high to be picked up by their parents. They were all released at 1:30pm. The wait caused frustration among parents and some relief for students whose school day was cut short.

The evacuation actually came on the heels of a regular fire drill at Seven Lakes. As the students were heading back into class when that was over, the security threat was discovered and they were sent out again.

District officials say the school is safe for students to return on Tuesday. School personnel will be posted around campus to help students retrieve personal items left behind Monday. Students are being asked to report to their fourth period homeroom first thing in the morning. The regular school day will resume after fourth period homeroom. Quizzes and tests scheduled for Tuesday will be postponed.

Please stay with us for updates on Eyewitness News, abc13.com and our mobile news apps as additional details become available.

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