By Sarah Naron
ELKHART – Just one day after the campus of Palestine High School was locked down following the discovery of a threatening letter on the campus, Elkhart High School experienced a similar occurrence.
Elkhart Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Ray DeSpain was notified at approximately 9:42 a.m. Wednesday, March 28 by EHS Principal Jason Ives of “an unsigned, handwritten note” which had been taped to a water fountain located in the school’s main hallway.
According to Dr. DeSpain, the note warned, “I’m gonna shoot up this school. Check your bags before 2:00.”
“We take any and all threats very seriously, whether they are written or verbal,” said Dr. DeSpain. “By established and practiced protocol, we went into lock down mode at the high school campus, meaning that all students and staff were to remain in the classrooms until further notice.”
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by school officials and “responded immediately and very efficiently and professionally,” said Dr. DeSpain.
Authorities and school staff members thoroughly searched all campus facilities, as well as each student and his or her backpack. The “all clear” was given to the school at 11:05 a.m., and normal operations were expected to resume throughout the remainder of the school day.
“We will continue to be, as always, very cautious and vigilant of our surroundings,” assured Dr. DeSpain. “As a strictly precautionary measure, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to post two officers at the high school campus for the rest of today and tomorrow (Thursday, March 29).”
An investigation is currently underway to determine who is responsible for writing and placing the note.
According to ACSO Chief Deputy Troy Black, the party found responsible would be charged with making a terroristic threat.
“That would be the initial charge,” he said. “It would have to go to the D.A.’s office for prosecution. Normally, if you’re convicted, there is jail time with fines attached to it.”
As Chief Deputy Black explained, the charge falls into the category of a Class B misdemeanor.
When asked how the situation would be dealt with in the event that an EHS student was simply attempting a practical joke, Chief Deputy Black made it clear that it would not be taken lightly.
“It would not be taken as a joke,” he said. “We wouldn’t just say, ‘Oh, you just meant it as a joke.’ It would be sent to the D.A.’s office for their consideration, and they could take it from there.”
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at email@example.com.