Just days after a horrific mass school shooting in Florida, three Butler County school systems faced their own threats of violence.
A Hamilton High School student was arrested Thursday for an alleged social media threat, and a Middletown High School student was questioned by city police Friday after allegedly fighting with another student and then, according to fellow students, saying he would go home and return with a gun. Multiple Middletown schools went on lockdown after the report of the threat on Friday.
On Thursday, a Ross High School student, who allegedly posted on social media he could “beat” the casualty toll of the shootings at the Florida high school, which left 17 dead, was arrested and remains in custody. That Ross teen now faces felony charges of inducing panic.
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The alleged threats were part of an extraordinarily tense week of school security concerns as the nation remains shaken by the Parkland, Fla. school killings.
“We take all threats seriously and will continue to work together with the Hamilton Police Department to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” Hamilton High School Principal John Wilhelm said in a statement.
“Simply put, we will show zero tolerance for any threatening behavior.”
The scene outside of Middletown High School was emotionally tense after the threat became known to school parents, who were alerted by their children ordered to stay in their classrooms during Friday’s lockdown.
Police rushed to the school and closed down the school’s doors, keeping anyone from leaving or coming in, said Middletown Police Major Scott Reeve.
Reeve said parents were “very sensitive” about concerns of deadly school violence after a former student gunned down students and staff members at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones predicted on Thursday the school shooting would produce “copy cats” during a Facebook video he posted.
Jones also renewed his call from years ago, lobbying Butler County school officials to allow armed personnel – perhaps retired military veterans or retired police officers – to patrol local schools to deter attacks.
In Warren County, the Kings Schools has been a leader in school security measures by using a simple metal device currently employed by only a handful of southwest Ohio school systems. Portable door wedges that secure heavy classroom doors from being pushed or blasted by gunfire into opening hang by each classroom in the 4,500-student, suburban district in Deerfield Township.
Dubbed “Bearacades” and made by an Ohio company of the same name, the door stop, which is quickly and easily secured by a sturdy metal pin inserted into a hole drilled into a school’s cement under flooring, transforms classrooms into safer havens from active shooters loose in a school building, officials said.
“The Bearacade gives us that tool and that option to make sure we can lock down and keep our kids safe, and it’s going to buy us a lot of time to get those (police) authorities here to help us against an armed, active shooter,” said Dustin Goldie, a veteran Kings High School teacher.
But, said Bill Cushwa, Founder/CEO of Bearacade, “there is no magic solution. Bearacade units are one added layer of safety.”
“Getting out and away is always the ideal situation. That is why all response protocols lead with run, avoid or get out,” said Cushwa. “But, as demonstrated in Florida, if there isn’t enough information, the way out is too dangerous, or you are on an upper floor, locking and blocking the entry into your space is the next best option.”
Kings senior Chris Lane said he and his classmates – many of whom are trained in how to install the door devices - appreciate the school district’s extra security efforts.
“It (door device) is really appreciated around here, especially after what happened (in Florida) because it shows us that the teachers want to keep us safe,” said Lane.
Staff Writers Rick McCrabb and Wayne Baker contributed to this story
VIDEO: See an active shooter drill where a Kings teacher uses a special security door device @journal-news.com