All is calm at schools

Sheriff, district respond to reports of impending violence

Hood River County Sheriff’s Department and Hood River County School District are responding to a flow of questions and rumors, mostly over social media, about reported threats of violence at district schools.

No arrests have been made and no incidents have occurred, according to Matt English, detective with the sheriff’s department.

“These kind of things are happening all over the country, where law enforcement is actively pursuing tips and rumors that their area is at risk,” English said, referring to law enforcement fielding reports following last week’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary,

All was calm in the schools and throughout the county on the morning of Dec. 21, and English said deputies were on normal patrol.

Meanwhile, according to The Dalles Chronicle, police and the schools rresponded to “rampant rumors that a school shooting would occur Friday” but sending what rreporter Neita Cecil called “a sizable police presence” to The Dalles Wahtonka High School … to provide reassurance.” The staffer said the school was not in lockdown, and classes were held as scheduled.

Students reported to parents that police were checking lockers and patrolling the halls.

The Dalles Wahtonka High School Principal Nick Nelson said, “obviously, everybody’s on edge,” given Friday is the one-week anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and it is also the date which the Mayan calendar predicted would be the end of the world.

“This thing has taken on a life of its own,” he said of the school violence reports, noting that numerous Facebook and Twitter postings the department and school district have responded to were based on rumor.

“In one case it was a bomb threat that someone heard about from a daughter’s friend. Why post if it’s third- or fourth-hand, and get people riled up unnecessarily?” English asked.

“I’ve been on site (HRVHS) making sure we have a clear and open line of communication, but fortunately we already have that,” he said.

On Thursday, the school district issued a statement that “it has been determined that none of the reports can be substantiated.”

English as well as HRVHS Principal Karen Neitzel urged that anytime anyone has information they believe may be viable, they should contact the authorities.

“If you have viable information we want to hear about it because we will follow up on it,” English said.

“Earlier this week building administration began receiving reports of a potential threat to student safety,” Neitzel said in her letter.

“These reports were investigated by Hood River County Sheriff’s Office and both Hood River County law enforcement and district administration will continue to investigate and take seriously any additional reports or rumors of threat as they come forward.

“We appreciate your calls and those who have stopped in to share their concerns and support for the school,” she said. “We want to assure you that we are committed to the safety and welfare of all our students and staff at Hood River Valley High School.”

Neitzel wrote that because updates via email or written letter will be difficult, students and parents should monitor the Hood River Valley High School website for the most current information.

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