Police: No evidence to confirm school threat was made
La PORTE — The La Porte Police Department received an alleged threat of violence against students at Handley Elementary School over the weekend. The alleged threat came to light over social media, and escalated when screenshots of the alleged suspect along with various firearms were shared on Facebook.
According to a police report published on April 8, investigators were able to determine that the alleged threat originated over a month ago and that it did not appear that anyone was actively preparing to attack the school.
The La Porte Police Department released additional information late Tuesday afternoon. The release stated that detectives have no evidence to confirm that the alleged threat that occurred over a month ago was made due to conflicting information.
After speaking with the alleged suspect’s family, detectives confirmed that this person is not in possession of any of the guns that were pictured in the social media post that led to the investigation.
“The La Porte Community School Corporation and local law enforcement take reports like this serious and we will continue to monitor any threats made towards schools,” Captain Bill Degnegaard of the La Porte Police Department wrote in the release.
The schools were made aware of the situation by one of the school’s liaison officers on Sunday night. LPCSC then sent out a parent notification of the alleged threat.
Superintendent of Schools Mark Francesconi went into more detail about their decision to notify parents.
“We actually emailed the parents Sunday night to tell that that we were aware that there was a Facebook discussion going on with this person, that may have gone on over a month ago, where they expressed an interest in something bad happening over at Handley,” Francesconi said. “There was never really a specific threat that we saw from the person, but there was more than enough reason to have a serious discussion and come up with a parent notification.
Although the alleged online threat contained no specific date or timeline in which the attack would occur at Handley, the parent notification resulted in Handley having only 50 percent attendance on Monday.
“That was something that the parents had to use their discretion on,” said Francesconi. “There is never enough support or assurance that you can give to someone when something like terrorism happens, which is what this [would be]. There are going to be people who are uncomfortable [allowing their children to attend school] and we understand that. We are trying to address the situation to the best of our ability without shutting the school down.”
The police assured the superintendent that they did believe it to be a credible threat, and that they are doing everything in their power to properly address the situation.
“The authorities in charge of public safety are aware of it, and they are working on it. Under the circumstances of what we know, we are going to go ahead and have school,” said Francesconi.
All of LPCSC schools have protocols for potential active shooters in place. Additionally, LPCSC conducted an active shooter drill exercise at La Porte High School with the police department just a few weeks ago.