2 juveniles arrested for threating notes at ROCHS
Two 14-year old females were charged with terroristic threats and transferred to the juvenile detention center Friday afternoon, Dec. 17, following the discovery of a threatening note in a Red Oak High School restroom.
Red Oak Police Chief Justin Rhamy said two threatening notes were discovered in school restrooms, around 1:30 p.m., students were evacuated to the activity center. Roughly 30 minutes later, after the building had been cleared by officials with the Red Oak Police Department, Red Oak Fire Department and Red Oak Emergency Management, classes resumed as scheduled.
Rhamy said there was an officer already at the high school when the note was found, because of a social media threat that Friday, Dec. 17 was “National School Shooting Day.”
Rhamy said security camera footage quickly led to the discovery of the two youths who had left the note.
A law enforcement presence remained at both campuses until the end of the school day. The varsity basketball games against Harlan Community High School that evening went on as scheduled.
Although Red Oak was the only school in the local area to receive a threatening note, school officials, parents and students across the United States were on high alert over social media rumors that Friday was “American School Shooting Day.”
An email sent to Red Oak school parents on Thursday, Dec. 16, read, “We have partnered with the Red Oak Police Department to investigate where there are any local connections to these social media posts. At this time, law enforcement has no evidence that would deem these threats as credible in our community or area. Out of an abundance of caution, we will remain in close contact with law enforcement throughout the day on Friday.”
The message also urged parents to speak to their children about the appropriate use of social media and the seriousness and repercussions of making threats of any kind. It also stressed for parents to talk to their children about reporting “something suspicious” to law enforcement or school officials.
Red Oak Superintendent Ron Lorenz said there were 188 students absent at the junior/senior high school and 209 students at Inman absent Friday because of the threat.
“We are experiencing a national epidemic of bitter, small minded, evil people sowing hate and fear and divisiveness. Social media has given them a platform, but we have given them our undivided attention. Every time we retweet one of their posts, write a newspaper article about them, or interview a terrified parent we feed these monsters,” Lorenz said. “We amplify their message and encourage them to intensify their wickedness. We have to stop validating the fear mongers and making them seem like more than the idiots they truly are. We have to stop being manipulated by the cowards behind their keyboards.”
Red Oak Junior/Senior Principal Nate Perrien added, “Whereas we are thankful the threats turned out to be unfounded, it was necessary for the school and law enforcement to respond the way we did to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”
“Unfortunately this is what the world has become,” said Rhamy. “We take all threats very seriously.”