The Rebecca M. Johnson Elementary School was in lockdown due to a nearby shooting on Wednesday afternoon, according to Azell Cavaan, the chief communications officer for Springfield Public Schools.
Cavaan said nobody was allowed in or out of the school, which is located at 55 Catherine St., while police searched the area for the alleged shooter.
Springfield police Sgt. John Delaney said the shooter fired a gun into the air toward a house on Sherman Street at about 2 p.m., which was close to dismissal time for students at the school. The school was locked down as a precaution and no students were in any danger at any time, Delaney said.
The city's shot spotter system was activated and police who were in the vicinity responded within seconds. Witnesses who called 911 said they saw a black male wearing a camouflage coat and dark pants fire the weapon into the air. They said he ran toward Bay Street after firing the revolver.
Another witness spotted the shooter enter the house on 75 Bowles St. and notified police
A Massachusetts State Police air wing unit responded. When the state police helicopter was hovering above 75 Bowles St. and officer had the home surrounded, police entered the residence with permission from the owner.
The suspect, later identified as 20-year-old Paul Gayle, of 145 White St., fled out a back door, but was quickly arrested by police. Officers were able to recover the .38 caliber revolver that he had wrapped in his camouflage coat and thrown in a trash bin.
“The shots were fired on Sherman Street and less then hour later the gun was recovered and suspect placed in handcuffs,” Delaney said. “This was great work with a combination of shot spotter, good citizens alerting the police and some fantastic police work by the responding officers.”
Gale was charged with carrying a firearm without a license, possession of ammunition without an FID card and discharging a firearm without a permit.
According to the city's shot spotter system, five rounds were fired on Sherman Street.
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