Social media threats of gun unfounded at HCHS

Published 10:15 am Thursday, November 9, 2017

Law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate the source of a social media rumor that created fear for Harlan County High School students on Thursday morning.

Harlan County Schools Superintendent Brent Roark said the rumor spread in the early morning hours as students made posts about an alleged threat that had been made concerning the school.

Officers from the Kentucky State Police and Harlan County Sheriff’s Office joined school resource officers and school and district administrators at the school to investigate the threat and to relieve concerns of students and their families.

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“We greatly appreciate the support of KSP and the sheriff’s department for their quick response,” said Roark. “We take student safety very seriously and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone we find who makes such threats, creating panic and interrupting the educational process. There is no credible threat. My son is there in class and has been at school since 7:30 this morning. If I felt there was a legitimate threat then he would not be there.”

The superintendent said he is appealing to parents to please talk with their children about sharing information that may or may not be credible and when you hear of a threat to please notify school and law enforcement officials.

“It is an extremely sad state of affairs when someone would create such fear following the extremely emotional day our students and staff experienced on Wednesday,” said Roark. “In light of today’s culture we certainly understand such fear and want to assure parents and community we take any potential threat seriously and work quickly to safely resolve it. We encourage students to report threats or suspicious activity of any kind but we ask that those potential threats are reported to law enforcement or school officials, rather than spreading what might only be a rumor across social media.”

Classes are on schedule at the school this morning.

Roark emphasized that the school is not on lockdown and was never on lockdown on Thursday.

According to a press release from the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office, the matter has been looked into extensively and no credible threat has been identified. No persons of interest or weapons were located at the school. The Harlan County Sheriff’s Office will have additional deputies at the school throughout the day to curb any fears or concerns.

“I think it’s important to note that through a mutual agreement between the Harlan County School System and the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office there are always two deputies (School Resources Officers) assigned full time to the Harlan County High School,” Harlan County Sheriff Leslie Smith said. “It is our intention to always take seriously any threat made involving the safety of students and faculty. Superintendent Roark’s office contacted me requesting assistance as soon as he was made aware of the situation.”

A similar complaint was made public in Knox County on Thursday morning.

Kentucky State Police Public Affairs Officer said during the evening hours on Nov. 8, an anonymous telephone message was sent with a threat toward Knox County Public Schools. Kentucky State Police, Post 10 Harlan was notified of the threats and began an investigation. Troopers from Post 10 responded to the local schools throughout Knox County on Nov. 9 to increase security and ensure student safety.

Jacobs said at this time KSP has identified no creditable threats toward any Knox County Public Schools. KSP will maintain a presence at the local schools throughout the day. KSP is continuing the investigation.