Gunman fears spark lock-down

By Neelima Choahan TWEED River High School at Tweed Heads was locked down for 45 minutes yesterday because of fears a gunman was loose in the school grounds.

The incident, which happened about 3pm as students were sitting their HSC exams, turned the school into a fortress on the advice of the police. Just 24 hours earlier on the other side of the world a Finnish student *had gone on a rampage, killing seven students and the principal before shooting himself. A NSW Education Department spokesman confirmed the Tweed River High incident, adding no students had been hurt.

"It is believed a gun changed hands outside the school entrance," he said.

"The students' welfare is always our priority and we are glad nobody was hurt."

When local journalists arrived at the school to cover a HSC-related story at the same time yesterday, the school entrance was locked, with the staff milling inside.

Principal Narelle Howell immediately asked them to leave the school grounds.

"I can't tell you what happened, but it is really serious," Ms Howell said. "You need to leave the grounds for security reasons."

A group of HSC students who had just finished their Information Technology exams were also asked to leave the premises.

Student Chris Watt, 18, said he did not know what was going on.

"We were all asked to leave," he said.

Soon after, two police cars arrived at the school and officers spoke at length with Ms Howell and other members of her staff.

Police then left the school premises to continue their search for the alleged culprits in the street outside the school.

Identified as Aboriginal males in their teens, one of the suspects was seen to stuff a silver pistol down the front of his pants.

Two police cars patrolled Duranbah before going to Enid Street in Tweed Heads, where five officers and a plain clothes detective questioned two males matching the description of the suspects.

At one point one of the boys could be seen making a phone call on his mobile, while the other sat on the kerb surrounded by police officers.

After questioning lasting nearly 30 minutes the two youths were allowed to leave.

Police officers then began to search inside cars parked on the street. Other officers searched the contents of a nearby skip bin.

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