After a threatening note was found in a bathroom at Salem School, students were put on lockdown in their classrooms Wednesday morning until investigators declared it was not a credible threat.
School officials discovered the handwritten note, which said “I will shoot up this school fifth grade,” in the morning after school started for the day and called the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, said Connie Valenza, interim district superintendent at Salem.
She said the school notified the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department they had found the note at about 9:30 a.m.
“Our protocol, if we are unable to verify if a threat exists, we would immediately put our students on lockdown, and we would immediately contact the authorities to assist us, and that’s what we did,” she said. “They were the leads in determining if the threat was credible or not credible.”
Sgt. Christopher Hannah said the sheriff’s department had deputies both inside and outside the school. After about two hours, the department determined the threat was not credible, and Salem resumed the regular school day.
Valenza said while deputies were in the school, students were on “soft lockdown,” meaning they were able to move about in the classrooms but could not leave the class.
Hannah said Salem families received notification from the school about the lockdown and said parents were asked not to come to the school to retrieve their children while the lockdown was in force.
Valenza said the school tried to communicate with families “as much as we could at the time. The priority is always dealing with the students, but we did try to let families know what was happening.”
A number of parents did go to the school to try to pick up children but were not allowed in the school.
The sheriff’s department is still trying to determine who wrote the note. Students who make threats of school shootings, even if they had no plans to carry out the threat, can face criminal charges.
“Sheriff David Beth, the department and Salem Grade School take all threats or potential threats very seriously to ensure the safety of all students and staff,” Hannah said in a news release.
Mass shootings at schools, churches, stores and public events around the country in recent years have left school officials little choice but to take all threats seriously.
Threats, from jokes spread on social media to notes left on bathroom walls, have caused lockdowns and school cancellations at schools throughout the county over the last three years.
Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Department at 262-605-5100.