Parents, students on edge as police search for school shooting threat suspects
WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - UPDATE: The West Fargo School District notified parents Tuesday evening that “significant progress has been made” on the investigation into the threat of violence, per the West Fargo Police Department. The district made the decision to return to onsite learning starting Wednesday. They are offering resources to families and educators to aid in coping with the threat of violence, including a Care and Support room for students that need a mental health break.
ORIGINAL STORY: Parents and students are on edge tonight as the hunt is still on for the suspects who threatened to shoot up a West Fargo middle school today.
West Fargo Police say a flood of reports came in shortly after 9:30 Monday night after a screenshot was shared on Snapchat stating someone, along with four others, was going to ‘shoot up Cheney Middle School’ today during the eighth grade lunch period. The threat forced school officials to keep their students off campus today.
“It makes my heart race because you never know,” Amanda Love, a parent of a 7th grade Cheney student said Tuesday morning.
Students at several other West Fargo schools were also absent from school today, as parents decided not to take the risk of the unknown.
“I kept my daughter home and she’s at the high school. I even had friends who kept their kids home from elementary because they’re so nervous. You think you’re going to be safe in West Fargo,” Love said.
Love was one of the many who reported the Snapchat to WFPD, and she, along with several other families in the community, is on pins and needles waiting for investigators to identify those involved.
“He’s very scared right now,” Love said.
“Unfortunately with something like this you never know if it’s a hoax or if it’s real!” Erica Thomas, a parent of both a 6th and 8th grade student at Cheney said.
“It hits too close to home. I mean, there’s only so much we can do. When they’re at school, their safety is out of our hands,” Laurie Kent, a parent of a 7th grader at Cheney said.
Police say there is immense frustration with Google tonight as investigators are still waiting to get information from the company to help identify the suspects.
“When we check a box that says, ‘This is a potential imminent threat,’ we expect that our social media platforms respond accordingly. To be having this press conference 11 hours later and still haven’t heard anything from Google, I think it is unacceptable and it should be unacceptable for everyone in our community,” West Fargo Police Chief Denis Otterness said.
West Fargo Superintendent Beth Slette says unless new information comes to light, she intends for Cheney Middle School to be back to in-person learning come Wednesday. However, all three parents we spoke with today say until those responsible have been caught, their kids are staying home.
“He will not be going tomorrow. I don’t feel comfortable, he doesn’t feel comfortable,” Kent said.
“I want to know that the threat is no more,” Thomas said.
All three mothers say it’s important for families to have conversations with your kids about mental health and social media, and to emphasize to kids that if something doesn’t seem right, to say something before it’s too late.
“It’s so important in this day and age to be active, mentally in your kids’ lives. Otherwise, we may end up in situations like this and that’s very scary,” Thomas said.
“When things like this happen, it’s a mental health problem. And I hope the children involved or parents, whoever, I hope they get the help they need,” Kent said.
WFPD say they will notify parents and families when those responsible for the shooting threats are identified.
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