Ridgeland High School sent out an alert early Friday morning saying a large cat had been spotted near the school.

The school went to “heightened state of security” status about 7:40 a.m. as the area was patrolled. Around noon, the school sent out message stating that the alert was lowered and school was back to normal.

School officials have not returned calls seeking comment.

This sighting comes a couple of weeks after a mountain lion was reportedly seen by a LaFayette High School teacher and, a few days later, by a North LaFayette Elementary School principal.

Ridgeland High School Resource Officer Bruce Coker, a deputy with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, said a school administrator told him a large cat, with a long tail and moving low to the ground, was spotted in his headlights as he was arriving at the school Friday morning.

The sighting occurred on Happy Valley Road, near the school sign, as the large cat moved quickly into the woods.

Coker said a custodian reported hearing an animal squalling, as if it had been captured by another animal, near the football practice field, beside a barn, as he was working near the bleachers.

Given the close proximity of the area and the time, the school went on high alert.

The time span between the administrator’s sighting and the custodian’s account was about 10 minutes, Coker said.

“We are taking precautionary measures, with an abundance of caution,” Coker said this afternoon.

Coker has been patrolling the area since early Friday morning and said there is no danger at this time.

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at jobryant@npco.com.