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Friday, May 12, 2023

Tuesday afternoon, City School parents received startling news. Three Charlottesville schools were locked down in response to a person found trespassing at Buford Middle School.

We immediately called the Charlottesville Police Department to ask about the nature of the threat. The spokesperson didn’t have an answer that day, except to say that the trespasser had some kind of connection with Greenbrier Elementary School and Charlottesville High School.

The lockdown continued for nearly two hours, and police stayed on each campus until the schools let out. The final word Wednesday afternoon was that officers would remain at each campus the remainder of the week to guard against the unnamed threat.

A police car that says "Charlottesville Police" on the side is in a parking lot. The entrance to a one story brick building is behind the car in the distance.

Police lockdown three City Schools after discovering someone trespassing at Buford

More information came the following afternoon. According to police, the threat came from a 22-year-old Albemarle County man named Dionte Ruffin. Police allege he threatened a single student at Buford. Ruffin had a connection to the child’s mother, police said, who also had students at Greenbrier and CHS.

“The Charlottesville Police Department has taken steps to ensure the safety of the family to whom the threats were directed,” according to a CPD news release. “At this time, no threats have been made toward the schools.”

Charlottesville police release more information about what caused yesterday’s three-school lockdown

The extended lockdown frightened students and parents. When school let out, one student told our reporter that “it was a lot.” Another said that he’s becoming desensitized to the experience. The next day, many parents kept their children home from school, according to posts on social media.

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“I wish that @CvilleSchools would give us more info on the lockdowns today,” Susan Kruse tweeted. “All communication seemed to downplay the situation, but my middle schooler tells me that LOTS of kids are staying home tomorrow. Anyone have more info?”

This is the second time Buford Middle School has locked down this year. The first lockdown came in September after the school received a hoax 911 call claiming there was an active shooter on campus. It was one of a string of such calls made last fall, alleging shooters were at various Charlottesville schools.

People lined up next to a podium with a man in a suit speaking at microphones, two on the edge are wearing red and black t-shirts with slogans on them. There is a historical painting behind them.

Gun violence is as much about changing our culture as it is about changing our laws, says UVA undergrad activist

Each new lockdown stokes fear — but also desensitization — in students and their parents. The threat of a mass-shooter storming a school is an ever-present part of public education in America.

Karly Scholz wrote about this grim reality in a First Person Charlottesville story, produced with our partners in Charlottesville Inclusive Media. Scholz is a University of Virginia student. Her high school experience was, in many ways, overshadowed by the constant threat of violence, she said. And that didn’t end when she arrived at UVA. Last fall, the university locked down after a shooter killed three UVA football players on campus.

Scholtz is now an activist working to change American cultural attitudes toward gun violence.

“There is clear evidence that owning a gun increases the chances of suicide, homicide and intimate partner violence,” Scholz wrote. “A Project Unloaded survey of 1,000 people, aged 13 to 25, found that most young people believe that guns make them safer, and I believe presenting clear information on the risks is the key to fostering an organic, generational shift.”

Do you have any lingering questions about Wednesday’s lockdown, or the way Charlottesville police and City Schools handle threats? Reply to this email, and we’ll keep working to report on safety in schools.

Thanks for reading,

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a