In­ves­ti­ga­tion of ru­mors leads to ar­rest

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - RANDY MOLL rmoll@nwadg.com

GEN­TRY — Po­lice in Gen­try, on Mon­day, ar­rested a 16-yearold male Gen­try High School stu­dent in con­nec­tion with ter­ror­is­tic threat­en­ing in the first de­gree, a Class D felony, ac­cord­ing to a Mon­day po­lice de­part­ment news release.

The Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment re­ceived information about a pos­si­ble threat at the Gen­try High School on Feb. 22. School of­fi­cials told po­lice that sev­eral stu­dents were re­port­ing ru­mors they were hear­ing, which were alarm­ing in na­ture, in­volv­ing threats of vi­o­lence against the school.

“Af­ter fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion, it was de­ter­mined there was enough ev­i­dence to sup­port an ar­rest war­rant be­ing is­sued,” Keith Smith, Gen­try chief of po­lice, said in a Mon­day release.

“The Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment takes the safety of our schools, stu­dents and fac­ulty very se­ri­ously and pledges to in­ves­ti­gate ev­ery threat and pros­e­cute those re­spon­si­ble to the fullest,” the release states.

In a Feb. 23, ar­ti­cle, the Ea­gle Ob­server re­ported: “Po­lice of­fi­cers and sher­iff’s deputies were at the doors of Gen­try High School on Fri­day to en­sure the safety of stu­dents fol­low­ing ru­mors which cir­cu­lated via so­cial me­dia that a stu­dent had threat­ened to carry out a shoot­ing at a school event Fri­day (Feb. 23).

“The school dis­trict re­leased the fol­low­ing state­ment via so­cial me­dia on Thursday af­ter­noon: ‘Please be aware that a ru­mor was cir­cu­lat­ing at GHS today that caused some con­cern. As a pre­cau­tion, while in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter, Su­per­in­ten­dent Metz made the de­ci­sion to can­cel the Ma­cho Vol­ley­ball Game sched­uled for tomorrow af­ter­noon. The ru­mor has been in­ves­ti­gated by the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the lo­cal po­lice. The ru­mor was un­founded. As a pre­cau­tion, the lo­cal po­lice de­part­ment will pro­vide an in­creased pres­ence around the cam­puses tomorrow.’

“Ac­cord­ing to Keith Smith, chief of the Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment, no cred­i­ble ev­i­dence had yet been found to sub­stan­ti­ate the ru­mors be­ing cir­cu­lated. He said his of­fi­cers are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate ev­ery lead but, as of Fri­day morn­ing, no wit­nesses had come forward who ac­tu­ally heard the al­leged threats and no other ev­i­dence to sub­stan­ti­ate the threats had been found.

“Smith said his de­part­ment was con­tin­u­ing to fol­low up on ev­ery lead and asked any­one who had heard threats or had any first-hand information on the al­leged threats to con­tact his de­part­ment im­me­di­ately. He said his de­part­ment would turn over any wit­ness state­ments or ev­i­dence re­ceived to the pros­e­cut­ing at­tor­ney and re­quest pros­e­cu­tion to the full ex­tent of the law.

“Terrie Metz, the su­per­in­ten­dent of Gen­try Pub­lic Schools, said the school dis­trict is work­ing with po­lice to fol­low up on any new information it ob­tains in re­gard to the al­leged threat.

“Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment re­leased the fol­low­ing information via its Face­book page Thursday night (Feb. 22) in re­gard to the al­leged threat: ‘The Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment, in con­junc­tion with the Gen­try School Dis­trict, is cur­rently look­ing into ru­mors of threats made by a stu­dent to pos­si­bly bring a gun to school and use it dur­ing a pep rally.

“‘Please be as­sured that the Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment takes any and all threats made to­wards our stu­dents and fac­ulty with the high­est level of se­ri­ous­ness.

“‘We are look­ing into ev­ery lead with the ut­most dili­gence, and if the threats are found to have any va­lid­ity at all, we will pur­sue crim­i­nal charges and pros­e­cute to the fullest ex­tent of the law.

“‘How­ever, there have been many un­sub­stan­ti­ated ru­mors go­ing around on this sub­ject. Ev­ery­one should know that spreading false information or false leads will not help any­one in this sit­u­a­tion.

“‘With that be­ing said, if any­one has any per­ti­nent information per­tain­ing to this threat, please call the Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment im­me­di­ately.’”

Any­one with information may call the Gen­try Po­lice De­part­ment at 479-7368400.

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