Breckenridge Texan

Investigation continues into BHS threat

Investigation continues into BHS threat
December 07
13:05 2018

As the investigation into a threat at Breckenridge High School continues, almost half of the district’s students are absent today, Friday, Dec. 7. Officials say they do not have a suspect at this point.

“District-wide, we’re at 57 percent in attendance,” said Tim Seymore, Breckenridge Independent School District superintendent, adding that the district usually has a daily attendance of 95 or 96 percent.

Although the threat is being taken seriously by school officials and local law enforcement, it is not considered a credible threat, Seymore said.

“This is the way we approach everything. There are often threats that are not credible, yet we still do due diligence and we don’t ignore them,” he said. “We don’t have a validated threat; we have a scribbling on a wall. No one saw anybody with a gun; no one knows of anyone who’s got a plan. We have scribbling on a wall saying someone is going to cause harm to kids at school today (Friday).”

The message was discovered on a bathroom wall at the high school on Thursday morning. School officials notified the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office and the Breckenridge Police Department, which is investigating the incident. Both the BPD and the SO were on the campus Thursday, keeping an eye on the situation, and will continue that presence today, Police Chief Larry Mahan said.

“We’ll be up there (at the high school) throughout the day and at the basketball tournament today, tonight and tomorrow,” Mahan said. “We have extra people in here. We had (Texas Department of Public Safety) troopers in here this morning, and people inside the school. We’re doing what we can.”

Mahan said an investigator with the Breckenridge Police Department was on the campus Thursday, going through the videos, trying to figure out who could have made the threat. “He’s talked to one person, and the school’s talked to several people. Last night, we had information that one of the officers was getting on Instagram, and we’re following all of those up. But, there’s nothing solid yet.”

The threat was made on the first day of the annual Breckenridge Lions Club Basketball Tournament, which brings in students from several area schools to compete. “Every school that’s in the tournament was notified; their administrations were notified and told what’s going on. Every one of them chose to continue participation in the tournament,” Seymore said.

Additionally, the BHS Theater Department’s production of “High School Musical Jr.” started its three-day run Thursday. Originally, the three elementary schools were scheduled to attend performances of the musical during the day on Thursday. Seymore said one school was already at Bailey Auditorium when the threat was discovered. Since the threat specifically mentioned Friday and not Thursday, the program was allowed to continue. However, once the threat became publicly known, Seymore said, some parents requested that their elementary age children not attend. Seymore left the decision up to the principals of the elementaries as to whether or not to attend the play. The two schools scheduled for the afternoon performance did not attend.

At this time, the performances for Friday night and Sunday afternoon are still planned.

Since the threat was for Friday, Seymore said, the high school principal chose to wait until Thursday evening when most parents would be home to put out the automatic phone call informing them of the situation. However, because information about the threat had become known by some students and parents earlier in the day, Seymore chose to address the situation on the BISD Facebook page on Thursday morning and afternoon.

Seymore said that while some citizens, including some parents of BISD students, have suggested that the district cancel classes today and take other actions in the situation, not everyone thinks that. “Most parents, however, are rational and understand that sometimes … kids do stupid things and write stupid things on the wall,” he said.

Even with fewer students in class than usual, the schools are attempting to go through the schedules as normally as possible on Friday. “We’re actually having a great day with the people who are here,” Seymore said. “All the kids who are here are in great spirits. I participated, with the other administrators, in searching everyone’s backpacks. The kids were cooperative, congenial, understanding, happy.”

Seymore said he’s seen and heard some criticism, but he’s confident that the district took the correct action regarding the investigation, security and communication with parents.

“I don’t know what else to tell them but what I’ve put out there. What else is there to say?” he said. “Somebody made a threat on a wall; we’re doing everything we can to find out who did it; we’re taking every precaution we know how, within reason. We are not going to shut down everything we’re doing, because that is never in anyone’s best interest to shut down everything for a lot of reasons. If we overreact and shut everything down, we’ll never accomplish anything. We always have to balance safety with practicality, even in situations like this. We’re reacting in the best way we know how. I’m not canceling school; there are many parents who didn’t want us to cancel school.”

Although school was not canceled for Friday, Seymore said the students who stayed home could receive an “excused” absence. “I told every parent, ‘You are more than welcome to keep your kid at home; we will excuse the kids’ absence, if you send a note saying you kept them home for safety reasons,’” he said. “If I thought our kids were in danger today, I would not have them here.”


Story by Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Police continue to have a strong presence at Breckenridge High School, including at the basketball tournament taking place at the school’s gym Friday and Saturday. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)




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