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WAKEFIELD, Neb. | Walk-in counseling sessions will be available for Wakefield Community Schools staff and students Thursday after a former student was found dead on campus Wednesday morning, officials said.

School staff reported seeing a suspicious vehicle parked on the south part of the school’s soccer field around 10:10 a.m., said Superintendent Mark Bejot.

Bejot said he went out to investigate the vehicle, where he found a 20-year-old man dead. He then contacted police and placed the school on lockdown.

The man’s identity has not yet been released, pending family notification. The Dixon County Sheriff’s Office said in a release the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

While Bejot did confirm the man was a former student, he would not elaborate on his identity or connection with the school.

“This is a small community and everybody knows everybody,” he said.

Two school buildings with approximately 450 preschool through 12th-grade students were on lockdown from 10:20 a.m to 1 p.m., Bejot said.

Once the lockdown ended, students were allowed to leave with a parent's permission, Wakefield High School Principal Jerad Wulf said. However, exterior doors, which normally are locked, were monitored for the rest of the day by school staff.

Despite the circumstances, Bejot said he was happy with the way staff and students handled the lockdown.

“They were very cooperative and did a great job at playing games and working on other things,” he said.

“We have been working on our drills, so when I called the lockdown everybody knew what they needed to do, which is a positive testament to our staff and crisis planning team.”

On-site counseling will be available to students or staff on Thursday, he said.

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