Monday, December 06, 2021

Libby schools roped into nationwide school threat hoax

The Western News | October 26, 2021 7:00 AM

Libby Police has determined that a shooting threat propagated by local middle school students last weekend was a hoax.

The threat, which Libby Police officers began investigating on Oct. 23, was part of a nationwide scare that spread on social media.

The original threat concerned a “Central” school in Missouri, according to Libby Police Chief Scott Kessel. As social media users shared the threat across the country, local school administrators overseeing similarly named school buildings worried their districts were being targeted.

“You can imagine how many school [districts] have a central school,” Kessel said.

The threat forced responses from law enforcement agencies and school districts across the nation, squandering time and resources.

After the threat circulated locally, Libby administrators put out an all-call to parents to assure them that school officials were coordinating with law enforcement, according to Superintendent Ron Goodman.

Libby Central School provides an alternative learning environment for high school students and the building housing administrative offices.

Law enforcement in Missouri have arrested individuals suspected of creating the threat, according to Kessel. After determining that the students responsible for circulating the threat in the Libby area were seventh-graders, Kessel said school officials would handle discipling measures.

A subsequent press release from Libby Police on Oct. 25 said officials hadn't filed criminal charges but didn't rule out the possibility.

"It is the policy of the Libby Police Department, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, the Libby School District that all threats of violence will be treated as the real thing and all resources will be utilized to ensure our students' safety," the statement read. "Where appropriate, criminal charges will be filed, as well as discipline brought by the school district."

To assure families that schools were safe, Libby police posted officers across the district on the morning of Oct. 25.