PIQUA — Due to safety concerns, Piqua High School was placed under lockdown on Thursday and students were dismissed at approximately 11:50 a.m. due to multiple rumors about possible threats to students.
“Rumors circulating concerning Snapchat posts yesterday have resulted in multiple rumors of threats from multiple sources that need to be assessed,” Chief of Police Bruce Jamison of the Piqua Police Department said. “In the interest of students’ safety during these assessments, they are being dismissed early.”
One rumor circulating was that a student brought a gun to school, which Jamison said was not true. “There’s nobody here with a gun,” Jamison said.
Piqua City Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson reiterated that this rumor was unfounded and that the early dismissal was “precautionary.”
There are a number of other rumors that police and school administration will be sorting through. In addition to Jamison, Deputy Chief Marty Grove and additional officers were present inside and outside the building throughout the situation.
Dwayne Thompson also alluded to the Snapchat messages, which he said were sent anonymously to specific students and while not outright threatening, the messages were of a harassing nature.
Paraphrasing the messages, Thompson said, “They were along the lines of, ‘I know something about you and therefore, I’m going to reveal it. That, of course, upset some kids and they reported it.”
Thompson said the Snapchats snowballed into rumors of threats, leading to a message on a bathroom wall indicating there would be a physical threat. “Rather than play with the rumors, which were getting out of hand, we thought it was best to dismiss the students early,” he said.
Thompson noted that an Instant Connect Message was sent to PHS parents within 15 minutes of discovering the bathroom message in an attempt to squelch the rumors and avoid panic, as well as allow administrators and police time to devote closer attention to the situation.
Regarding the bathroom wall message, Thompson said police will be reviewing camera evidence (outside the bathroom), as well as speaking to anyone who might have information. He encouraged those who might have any helpful information or know someone who does to contact the Piqua police.
In addition to Thompson, several school board members and school staff were on hand to assist with the situation. Students who rode buses were accompanied to their buses under staff supervision, and those who drove or received rides to school were escorted from the building individually by staff.
All evening practices at PHS also were cancelled, according to Thompson. The high school will not be in session today; all other schools will operate on a normal schedule.
School administrators and police will continue to assess and investigate the incident.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach Belinda M. Paschal at email@example.com. Mike Ullery contributed to this story; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org