Text message leads to lockdowns for Middletown, Lakota schools: What we know today

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Press conference regarding Middletown school lockdown

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A threatening text message allegedly sent from a female Middletown Middle School student led to the lockdown of public and private schools in Middletown and two Lakota school buildings and to the girl being charged with felony inducing panic.

Middletown police Chief David Birk and schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. didn’t release the content of the text message that was received Wednesday morning, but Birk said it mentioned “an incident of violence at a school.”

The message started a several-hour period during which police searched multiple areas for the message’s source, confirmed they were interviewing multiple people and the two school districts worked to keep their communities updates.

Middletown and Lakota school officials confirmed information throughout the developing situation with Journal-News reporters, who were on the scene in both communities.

Styles said “all threats,” regardless of how they’re delivered, are taken seriously so the 10 schools in the district were placed on lockdown at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday until the suspect was taken into custody by Middletown police.

“Safety first,” Styles said.

A system that confirms appointments for the wellness center on the Middletown High School campus received a threat at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday at the school-based Primary Health Solutions wellness center. Right before the center opened, an employee read the text message and contacted Styles who implemented the district’s crisis plan, he said.

The Middletown schools were locked down for more than three hours and since the threat was out in the community, Styles said he was “very confident” students and staff were safe at all times.

There were reports of someone being armed near the high school, but police said that was false.

“At no time there was no actual threat,” Birk said.

Styles praised his staff and students for how they responded to the threat. He said the district routinely practices safety drills.

“Today that practice paid off,” he said.

The student and her phone were found around 12:30 p.m. at Middletown Middle School, and she confessed to sending a text message, Birk said. She was charged with felony inducing panic, and while being interviewed by Middletown detectives, she made physical threats toward herself, Birk said.

She was transported to a local emergency room and, and police were planning to take her to the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center after her evaluation and release from the hospital.

Lakota East High School and the Lakota East freshman campus were also put on lockdown. Birk said police pinged a phone with a number associated with the number from which the alleged threatening text was sent, which caused those lockdowns. There was no threat at Lakota schools, Birk said.

Birk described the outcome of the incident “a great day” because nobody got hurt.


LOCKDOWN TIMELINE

7:40 a.m.: Person sends threatening text message on phone at school-based Primary Health Solutions wellness center at Middletown High School.

8:54 a.m.: Text message is read to a wellness center employee as center prepares to open.

8:58 a.m.; Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. is contacted about the threat.

8:58 a.m.: Styles contacts the School Resource Officer at the high school.

9:15 a.m.: The 10 buildings in the Middletown district and the private schools in the area are placed on lockdown.

11:31 a.m.: Lockdown begins at Lakota East High School and Lakota East freshman campus.

12:05 p.m.: Lunch is delivered to students in their Middletown classrooms.

12:24 p.m.: Lockdown is lifted at elementary schools.

12:30 p.m.Female Middletown Middle School student is taken into custody by police at the school. She faces at least inducing panic charges.

12:31 p.m.: Lockdown is lifted for all schools.

1:45 p.m.: Styles and Middletown police Chief David Birk hold joint press conference in the City Building.

3:45 p.m.: Female student is charged with felony inducing panic.

CONTINUING COVERAGE

The Journal-News used reporters in Middletown and Liberty Twp. to chase leads and confirm information as the threat situation was unfolding on Wednesday. We’re committed to using journalists in our communities to be fast, accurate and dependable in breaking news situations. For news tips, email ButlerCountyNews@coxohio.com or call 513-863-8200, ext. 6.

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