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January 08. 2013 8:20PM

Windham police say sound of gunshots came from neighboring Pelham

WINDHAM - Though students and staff at both Windham Middle and Golden Brook Elementary schools reported hearing a loud blast in the woods on Tuesday morning, school officials said there's no reason for alarm.

Windham Police Chief Gerald Lewis said the noise was caused by people shooting at targets on private property in nearby Pelham.

"Rightfully so, these reports have causes some concern and anxiety for school staff as well as parents," Lewis said. "At no time was the shooting believed to have been in close proximity to the schools."

Police arrived to investigate the area between the two schools shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday but after an extensive search of the area, nothing suspicious was found near school grounds, Superintendent Henry LaBranche said.

"We never went on lockdown, and the police gave us the clear within 20 minutes," he said.

Chief Lewis said Windham police have since been in contact with members of the Pelham Police Department, who determined the noises had actually originated in Pelham.

"The noise from the shots was clearly heard in Windham as the snow cover and lack of foliage caused the sound to carry and seem closer than it actually was," Lewis said. "Based on this incident, we believe previous reports of gunshots in the woods behind the two schools came from the same general area."

This was the fourth time in the past several weeks that students and staff have been scared in the Windham district. Several days after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Windham High School was placed on a brief lockdown after someone reportedly heard "a loud bang."

Several days later, a school board member heard news of a threat received over the Internet.

On Jan. 2, the middle school was locked down briefly after a resident reportedly heard gunshots.

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April Guilmet may be reached at AGuilmet@newstote.com.


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