An 18-year-old student who had an airsoft pistol in his car at Westbrook High School, prompting a lockdown of four local schools Friday, will not be charged with any crimes, police said.

Westbrook High School, Westbrook Regional Vocational Center, Westbrook Middle School and Canal School went into lockdown at 9:16 a.m. after reports of a man with a gun entering the high school. Police responded immediately and searched the school room by room, and an alert from the school department soon indicated the students and staff were safe. The lockdown lasted about an hour.

Westbrook police questioned three students – two 18-year-olds and a 16-year-old – involved in the incident. At a news conference Friday morning, Police Chief Janine Roberts said one of the students could face a misdemeanor charge for carrying a firearm on school property. But in a statement later, she said no law was violated.

“Because an airsoft pistol does not expel a projectile by the action of an explosive, it is not considered a firearm by Maine law,” Roberts said.

Because no charges will be filed, the students will not be identified. Earlier in the day, Roberts stressed that a fake gun is still a real threat.

“It’s a significant threat because when officers are faced with someone with a fake weapon, we don’t know,” she said.

An investigation determined the three students were in a car in the school parking lot with what was ultimately determined to be an airsoft pistol. Airsoft guns are typically replicas of real firearms that shoot small plastic pellets, according to the website airsoftking.com. They include spring-, electric- and gas-powered guns. When fired, they could cause pain and bruising. At close range, they could break skin.

Another student saw one of the 18-year-olds holding the airsoft pistol in the car and then entering the school. That student alerted a teacher, prompting the lockdown. Police searched the school and found the student who had been seen with the gun. He did not have it with him, and the airsoft pistol was confiscated from the vehicle. All three students from the car were interviewed at the public safety building.

Eighteen officers – every officer on duty – responded to the call at the high school.

“It’s one small act that has a huge ripple effect,” Roberts said.

Superintendent Peter Lancia said the schools followed lockdown procedures “by the book.”

Parents received alerts about the lockdown immediately, and students sheltered in classrooms. Each school practices lockdown procedures at least once a month, he said.

“I’m furious,” Lancia said. “It makes our entire school unsafe if someone brought a gun to the property. Fortunately, no one came into the high school with a weapon, so the risk was certainly less, but I don’t want any weapons on our property.”

An alert sent about 10:13 a.m. said school dismissal would be at the regular time, although parents would be allowed to pick up their child if they wished.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

mdoyle@pressherald.com

Twitter: megan_e_doyle