PIQUA — A 10-year-old boy is being charged in connection with a threat involving Piqua Central Intermediate School, following a day of investigation by the Piqua Police Department and administration at Piqua City Schools.
The local juvenile is being charged with first-degree misdemeanor making false alarms. According to Piqua Chief of Police Bruce Jamison, the boy, while walking home from the school bus, told other children that he was going to bring a gun to school on Thursday.
Jamison said that the police department intervened Wednesday night to ensure that the boy did not have access to guns and also to make sure that the boy did not go to school until their investigation was complete. The investigation was completed Thursday evening.
Patrols at Piqua schools were increased on Thursday while the investigation was under way. District Superintendent Dwayne Thompson said there had been rumors circulating of other threats that turned out to be unfounded, the result of a snowball effect that often comes with relying on social media to disseminate information.
“People will put something on social media saying, ‘Hey, this kid made this threat, and by the time it gets to us, there are so many rumors and so many versions that it’s hard for us to get details,” Thompson said.
Jamison echoed this sentiment, saying, that most of the rumors “panned out to not be true.” Nevertheless, authorities take all threats and rumors seriously, he said.
“We take each (threat) based on where the information is coming from,” he said, adding that social media is often an unreliable source of information.
“We don’t want to discourage people from reporting (a threat) to us, but we do discourage people from reporting it to a large social media audience. It’s not a good way to intervene or help us to determine the reliability or validity of a threat.”
The school district’s main goals are to ensure safety of its students and to get communication about such incidents out to parents, Thompson noted. To that end, a call was sent out Thursday morning about the alleged threat at PCIS and notifying parents that there would be an investigation, as well as a threat assessment, which involves police, staff members, administration, counselors and mental health experts.
Thompson added, “When a student or parent hears anything, they are always our first line of defense. If people can make that contact and help us right away, that helps us more than putting it on Facebook. It helps us get details and facts sooner, so we can take care of the situation sooner.”
Thompson listed several ways concerned residents can report rumors or alleged safety threats, including calling police if the information is received after school hours; leaving an anonymous tip on the Piqua Police Department’s website; or going to www.piqua.org and clicking “Student Safety Reporting” on the righthand side of the page.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3341