TOPEKA (KSNT) — Shawnee Heights students and their parents are breathing a sigh of relief Tuesday night, as a threat of violence against the school appears to be hollow.
A message warning of a “shootout” was sent to dozens of students Monday night, and more than 400 students didn’t show up at school Tuesday because of that threat.
It’s a threat school officials aren’t sure is valid, but have to take seriously.
“In the old days it would be a threat written on a bathroom wall, or a note found in a hallway. Now it’s a Snapchat or an Instagram message, that is simply easier to replicate and reproduce and broadcast to all your friends,” said Superintendent Dr. Marty Stessman.
A message almost identical to the one Shawnee Heights students received has been sent out in other states including Florida, Alabama, Michigan and Missouri.
“What we typically do is evaluate the authenticity of the threat. Is it or is it not a threat, does it apply to us. Unfortunately, you usually come to the conclusion, it doesn’t matter if it’s a viable threat or not, there’s still actions you have to take to ensure everybody’s safety,” said Stessman.
That’s just what district leaders did. On Tuesday morning extra officers from the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol were on hand as students arrived at school.
“Their backpacks were checked by school officials and then we had extra deputies out here and extra security out in the parking lot,” said Shawnee County Sheriff’s Deputy Marcus Scheid, the School Resource Officer for Shawnee Heights High School.
Deputy Scheid also sat at the entrance to the school throughout the day, checking anyone else entering the building.
“Most of them have welcomed the extra search of the backpack or having us wand them,” said Scheid.
It meant everyone at the school stayed safe, the ultimate goal.
But now the question is, who’s responsible?
Law Enforcement says the message appears to be a copy-cat.
“The last I spoke with law enforcement was last night and they felt like they had a couple of decent leads and that they might be able to find the person that originally altered the message from another form to apply to Shawnee Heights,” said Stessman.
The school is still on alert because the message also mentioned this Friday January 29th.
KSNT News is told extra safety measures will be in place throughout the week to ensure all students feel safe at school.
No other schools in Northeast Kansas have seen similar threats. Now we’re told the FBI is also investigating.