School safety: SISD combats threats, rumors

by Christina Derr

A Springtown High School student was arrested March 1, after Springtown Police Department Student Resource Officer Foster Marshall and SHS administration officials were made aware of alarming behavior.
Ryan Louis Callaway, 18, of Springtown, was booked into the Parker County Jail on a charge of terroristic threat causing fear of severe bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor. He was released on $2,000 bond the following day.
Early this week, the rumor mill began to turn regarding another possible threat prompting SISD Superintendent Mike Kelley to issue a second statement clearing the air.

Fellow students alert officials
Officials at SHS were first made aware of Callaway’s behavior in February from other students at the school.
After officials began an investigation, it was turned over to Marshall. Over the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Callaway allegedly told other students that he kept a “hit” or “rage” list of students he “felt had wronged or angered him,” according to SPD.
Callaway confirmed the existence of the list to officials but refused to produce it.
He also allegedly made comments that his “New Year’s resolution” was to “drink more and kill less” and expressed a desire to bring weapons to school.
Officials conducted a lawful search of Callaway’s backpack and locker that revealed writings of his that “were disturbing and created a fear that he was capable of violence,” according to SPD.

Disturbing writings
The department said the topics of his writings included his like for killing, murder, Russia, and making children cry.
After that time, Callaway was suspended from school and SPD began the process of obtaining an arrest warrant.
The warrant was served without incident. SPD also notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Kelley reacts
After the arrest of Callaway, Kelley said in a statement, “I want to emphasize that at no time was there a weapon on campus, but words were used that generated concern.”
“The district greatly appreciates the support of our local law enforcement officers, and the courage of the students who reported the misbehavior.
“Recent events in Florida and across the country have understandably elevated concern regarding safety and security in public places, and especially schools.
“Modifications to the district’s policies regarding entering and exiting our buildings have decreased accessibility to the campuses. While we apologize for the inconveniences these changes may have created, we do not second-guess the logic behind the modifications.”
The superintendent continued: “As partners in the community, the district asks all our students, parents, and community members to maintain a watchful eye for any signs of behavior that might warrant additional attention from school employees and/or law enforcement officials.
“Please continue to encourage your children to be mindful of the need to report things they hear and see that might be dangerous. Our collective diligence is especially important in this day and time.”

Rumors start
Early this week claims of a threat posted on the social media site Snapchat began to quickly spiral out of control.
A student reported they had seen or heard about a Snapchat post that threatened a future incident at SHS.
Kelley said officials and Marshall again immediately began to investigate, as they did they gathered that every report of a student learning from the supposed threat came from hearsay.
“Feedback offered by students included comments that they had ‘heard about it’ or ‘read about it on Facebook,’ but not a single student claimed to have seen the ‘snap’ firsthand,” Kelley said.
Kelley said that the district and local law enforcement will continue to investigate such rumors.
In regard to the notion that SHS would not be safe for students on Friday, March 9 – the date supposedly indicated in the alleged threat – Kelley offered other parents his feelings as a father of an SHS student as well as the district’s superintendent:
“Like every other parent, my own children and family are more important to me than anything else on earth.
“I would not send anyone to school if I did not believe it was safe.
“My daughter attends Springtown High School, and my wife works there; they will both be at Springtown High School on Friday.
“I hope this speaks to the level of confidence I have in saying the recent rumor is only that – a rumor.”

SPD ready
The day after Callaway’s arrest, SPD Chief of Police Tony Motley released a statement describing the department’s ability to respond quickly to any incident of violence at a Springtown campus.
He assured parents and students that every officer in his department has undergone ALERRT active shooter response training in SHS, familiarizing themselves with the building, and that the training included district officials and other local first responders.
Motley said he has attended every training session that has been held and made his expectations clear: “If there is an incident in one of our schools they will immediately respond and take any and all necessary actions to eliminate the threat.”
To make that action a reality in such a situation, every officer has been issued equipment to aid them in an active shooter situation, including AR-15 rifles and body armor.
The department has also developed a call-out system so that every SPD officer – regardless of whether they are on duty or off – will respond quickly to the site of an incident.
Motley said all surrounding law enforcement agencies have entered into mutual aid agreements with SPD, and have pledged officers to respond were an incident to occur.
Additionally, Motley is joined by SISD Assistant Superintendent Shane Strickland on the Parker County School Safety committee where they are able to meet regularly with other law enforcement and school personnel from other local districts to discuss and plan school safety.
Motley’s statement went on to promise to continue to investigate “any threat by word or act made to the security of the school.
“We will aggressively prosecute the case to the fullest extent allowed by law.”


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