Students at Four Rivers Career Center were temporarily restricted to their classrooms Thursday morning as officials conducted an investigation into allegations that an unidentified 16-year-old Pacific High School student had made a threat against the school.
The investigation was launched the previous evening when a Franklin County School Safety Deputy received a call from an administrator at the Meramec Valley School District R-III, regarding a student bringing a gun to school on the following day, Sept. 23, Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton said.
“Deputies immediately contacted the Pacific Police Department where a joint investigation was conducted,” Pelton said. As part of that investigation, authorities learned that a text message was sent indicating that there was going to be a gun brought to school and that people should not show up between 7:30 a.m. and noon.
Police went to the juvenile’s home, where he was taken into custody for questioning.
In the interview, authorities learned that “it was possibly fabricated by another juvenile to get the other student in trouble,” Pelton said.
“We have forensically examined this juvenile’s phone and can tell the threat did not come from his phone,” Pelton said.
Pelton said the individuals responsible for fabricating this rumor could face a variety of punishments, including criminal charges of harassment and creating what “could be viewed as a terroristic threat.”
Pelton and Washington Police Department Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes said WPD officers responded to Four Rivers Career Center as a precautionary measure after being contacted by a concerned Wright City parent. Four Rivers Career Center offers vocational and technical education courses to students from multiple school districts, not just Washington School District.
Washington School District Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Kephart said the student alleged to be the creator of the threat did not attend school Thursday at Four Rivers Career Center.
Sitzes said no student was taken into custody at Four Rivers Career Center Thursday.
“Until we can get more information, this is going to be an ongoing investigation,” Pelton said. He said there is no threat to any schools.
Pelton said it would likely be some time before they have any updates on this case.
Dr. Ketina Armstrong, director of communications at Meramec Valley School District R-III, said Pacific High School’s investigation into the threat allegations wrapped up Wednesday, Sept. 22, after it was determined there was no threat to the school.
Armstrong said the high school added extra security as a precaution on Thursday, Sept. 23.