CLOVIS, N.M. – A call about a possible weapon at a middle school prompted police to put armed officers on rooftops, close nearby streets and lock down the school. All over a giant burrito.
Someone called authorities Thursday after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped into Marshall Junior High (search).
The drama ended two hours later when the suspicious item was identified as a 30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and jalapenos and wrapped inside tin foil and a white T-shirt.
"I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," school Principal Diana Russell (search) said.
State police, Clovis police and the Curry County (search) Sheriff's Department arrived at the school shortly after 8:30 a.m. They searched the premises and determined there was no immediate danger.
In the meantime, more than 30 parents, alerted by a radio report, descended on the school. Visibly shaken, they gathered around in a semi-circle, straining their necks, awaiting news.
"There needs to be security before the kids walk through the door," said Heather Black, whose son attends the school.
After the lockdown was lifted but before the burrito was identified as the culprit, parents pulled 75 students out of school, Russell said.
Russell said the mystery was solved after she brought everyone in the school together in the auditorium to explain what was going on.
"The kid was sitting there as I'm describing this (report of a student with a suspicious package) and he's thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, they're talking about my burrito.'"
Afterward, eighth-grader Michael Morrissey approached her.
"He said, 'I think I'm the person they saw,'" Russell said.
The burrito was part of Morrissey's extra-credit assignment to create commercial advertising for a product.
"We had to make up a product and it could have been anything. I made up a restaurant that specialized in oddly large burritos," Morrissey said.
After students heard the description of what police were looking for, he and his friends began to make the connection. He then took the burrito to the office.
"The police saw it and everyone just started laughing. It was a laughter of relief," Morrissey said.
"Oh, and I have a new nickname now. It's Burrito Boy."