Threats cause concern at Broken Arrow schools

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 12/13/2013 6:14 pm Published: 12/13/2013 5:24 pm

Several parents in Broken Arrow kept their children home Friday after rumors of threats of violence circulated around three schools.

Police and the district said the students were never in any danger.

At Sequoyah Middle School, FOX23 was told a student found a note threatening violence against 21 students. There were also rumors of violence at South Intermediate High School, which spread to North Intermediate High School.

School officials said none of the threats were credible.

"My friends told me that they found a writing in the book that there was going to be a school shooting today, and there's going to be 21 people," said Ki Sheppard, a sixth-grader at Sequoyah Middle School.

That threat terrified Sheppard.

"Today, I woke up almost in tears, because I was like really freaking out, because I'm scared. Because all of these school shootings that happened, they have been horrible, and I don't want to be one of those victims," she said.

Corp. Leon Calhoun with Broken Arrow police said detectives were at the school looking into the note early Friday morning.

"(We) interviewed many, many students, were not able to get any type of information to lead to who might have actually left that," he said.

But he said there were two officers at the school most of the day just in case.

They also had extra manpower around the block at South Intermediate after rumors of a possible school shooting circulated on Twitter.

"And they were able to make contact with the person who actually had sent the tweet out. After their investigation and speaking with this individual, determined that this threat was not credible," he said.

But that didn't stop the rumor mill from spreading across town to North Intermediate.

"We take these things very seriously," said Calhoun.

Broken Arrow Schools Spokeswoman Tara Thompson said parents need to know their kids were not in danger.

"If they can get mom or dad to think that maybe it's not safe to send them to school today, I think some students probably utilize that to their advantage," said Thompson.

But that doesn't put Sheppard's fear to rest.

"It was really specific today, but you never know what could happen. And I'm pretty frightened to go back to school," she said.

The person who circulated the Twitter rumors about South Intermediate and whoever left the note at Sequoyah will likely be facing charges, at a minimum disorderly conduct.

The transcript of the phone message the district superintendent sent to parents is here:

To:     Phone Message to Parents

From:     Dr. Jarod Mendenhall

Date:    January 13, 2013

Good evening – this is Broken Arrow Public schools Superintendent, Dr. Jarod Mendenhall.  I wanted to update you on two separate issues that have been rumored in our school district.

Prior to Thanksgiving break, district administration and law enforcement were investigating rumors of an alleged school shooting planned at Sequoyah Middle School. After an extensive investigation, it was determined there was no truth to these rumors.

Yesterday evening, a similar but separate rumor was investigated of an alleged shooting planned today at North or South Intermediate.   Again, after an extensive investigation, it was determined there was no truth to these rumors.

Investigations such as this are an unfortunate necessity in keeping schools safe. Typically, when investigations result in no credible evidence or require no further action, no public communication is made.

However, last night’s rumor was so escalated by social media and media coverage that I wanted to contact you personally and offer you reassurance. The rumors were thoroughly investigated by our school administrators and the Broken Arrow Police Department and no evidence of a threat existed in either case.   

I want to close by asking for your assistance. Please help stop the spread of misinformation regarding these two incidents by taking a moment to visit our website and reading a letter I have just posted.  Thank you for your time and thank you for helping us keep our students safe.  

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