A Hell’s Kitchen high school went under hard lockdown shortly after 1pm today (Friday), as authorities investigated reports of a student bringing a firearm into the building. Three weapons, two real and one replica were found.

Hell's Kitchen School Lockdown
Police block W56th Street and 10th Avenue this afternoon after the high school was locked down. Photo: Catie Savage

Following a 911 call, counterterrorism and K-9 units were deployed to M544 Independence High School on 10th Avenue and W56th Street. The lockdown was lifted at around 3:30pm. Three weapons were discovered, but no shots were fired, according to police.

Councilmember Erik Bottcher posted to X: “They are safely dismissing out of the building and two firearms and a BB gun have been found thus far while everyone is being scanned out of the building. No one is allowed in while students and staff are being safely dismissed with the assistance of NYPD.” 

Hell's Kitchen School Lockdown
Police at the Independence High School on 10th Avenue. Photo: Catie Savage
Hell's Kitchen School Lockdown
NYPD K-9 units scoured the area around the high school. Photo: Catie Savage

W55th and W56th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue were still closed to traffic early this evening.

In a post to X, NYPD School Safety said: “I want to assure you all of our students are safe. We have the best School Safety Agents. Thank you for your patience — your children will be home shortly.” Parents were asked to report to 500 W56th Street for further information.

Guns Hell's Kitchen High School
NYPD display pictures of the firearms found on students at the Hell’s Kitchen high school this afternoon. Photo: NYPD Youtube

At an NYPD press conference this evening, Chief of Patrol John Chell said a family member had reported that “a 15-year-old brought a gun to school.” Authorities reacted by putting the schools into a “hard lockdown”. Students were scanned as the building was evacuated and the firearm was found — along with another firearm on a second student and an imitation pistol on a third. A K-9 search of the school is still continuing, he added. Police displayed pictures of the weapons at the press conference.

Hell's Kitchen School Lockdown
Police at W56th Street and 10th Avenue this afternoon. Photo: Catie Savage

The Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education David Banks responded to questions at the conference about the use of scanners in the city’s schools. “It’s something we’re always [monitoring] on a regular basis. Constantly taking a look at whatever safety precautions that we do need to put in place. We don’t have scanning across our 1,600 buildings across New York City. We analyze this on an ongoing basis. We have random scanning around the city as well for schools that don’t have scanning on a daily basis,” Banks said. “It is very concerning for me. Absolutely.”

Initial reporting said that the incident was at M400 High School for Environmental Studies (HSES) on W56th Street which shares the building with Independence High School, but have separate entrance doors. Weapons were taken from Independence High School, not HSES.

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