ROUNDUP: Kansas district says fearful student took gun, knife to elementary school

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Schools across the country Friday continued to deal with threats, student reaction in wake of Parkland shooting

Gatehouse Media

A student in Salina, Kansas, brought a gun and knife to an elementary school Friday after being scared by a viral Facebook post that promised violence at an out-of-state school.

That action is one of several stories that continue to emerge as the country continues to deal with the aftermath of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed.

School officials in Salina said Friday that the weapons taken to Stewart Elementary were “immediately secured,” police were called and “the student has been removed from the school property.”

According to a news release from Jennifer Bradford-Vernon, the district spokeswoman, issued about 11 a.m. CST Friday, the student was fearful after seeing a Facebook post that went viral Wednesday, originated out of state and threatened a potential shooting at a school with the initials “SHS.”

Multiple investigations concluded the post was referring to a school in Springfield, Ohio, and an arrest was made on Thursday.

The Salina school district sent a message to parents about the Facebook post that said it had been determined not to be specific to Salina South High School.

Bradford-Vernon said she had no further information about whether the student was a girl or a boy, what age the student was, whether the gun was loaded or how the weapons were discovered. She said the weapons were found and secured early in the school day.

Bradford-Vernon wrote in the release that school officials were working with the Salina Police Department in investigating the incident.

“We hold safety and security of our students and staff as the highest priority,” she wrote.

Other schools and local law enforcement personnel across the country are still responding to threats and seeking out the suspects.

At least four more school threats were reported Friday in the Volusia and Flagler county area in Florida, from Daytona Beach to Pierson, including one that turned out to be students discussing current events but was initially misconstrued as a threat to a principal, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

The number of school threats during the past 12 days in the area, now approaching two dozen, continues to tick upward. Teachers and police are trying to figure out how to handle the threats, all of which so far have been false, and students and parents have to decide seemingly daily whether simply attending school is dangerous.

The trend seemed to have bewildered Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood as of Friday morning.

“It’s out of control,” he said. “The more we say we’re going to lock them up, the more they do it.”

Multiple central Ohio schools were closed Friday in response to reported threats, and some students now face criminal charges.

In North Canton, Ohio, one or two officers were stationed at six schools in response to a late Thursday night threat.

Superintendent Jeff Wendorf sent an e-mail late Thursday to all parents in the district making them aware of a threat “from an anonymous social media post” that officials believe originated on Snapchat.

He said police were investigating the threat and would be present at school buildings Friday.

In New York, New Windsor police are investigating a threat against the Vails Gate School that was posted to social media Thursday night.

A spokeswoman for the Newburgh school district said a report that the school was on lockdown Friday morning was incorrect. But she said steps were being taken to protect the safety of the students.

Authorities investigated a report of an alleged hit list Thursday at Exeter High School in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the threat was determined to be unfounded.

Exeter police said in a press release they were notified about the threat on Thursday when a faculty member overheard an unidentified student speak of another student who had an alleged hit list.

Police say they conducted multiple interviews of students during the night including the accused student. The family of the accused fully cooperated with the police including a search of their home, computers, cellphones and other areas where a note would be kept or written.

Elsewhere, students demonstrated or expressed their intentions to protest gun violence.

Students at two high schools in the Erie, Pennsylvania, area registered for March 14’s National School Walkout to lobby for actions to send school shootings and other gun deaths. Officials for both districts that oversee the schools said the students would be allowed to participate.

About 150 students at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, staged a walkout Friday morning to honor the 17 people killed at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The students, led by a group of seniors, stood outside the front of the school’s main building in silence for 17 minutes. A few teachers, school principal Lee Hale and three deputies from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office stood outside the group to watch over the students.

Hallie Duhon, a freshman, said the walkout wasn’t meant to protest gun control laws but to memorialize the 17 from Parkland.

“This isn’t a protest. This is more of a memorial, for respect. We want it in our hearts,” Duhon said.

Brianna Banks, a senior who helped organize the group of students, said the walkout was in response to other teenagers who she said haven’t taken the Parkland shooting seriously.

“Too many people lose their lives and people forget,” she continued. “We just want them to know that we care, we see, we understand what happened.”

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