Weapon-threat at Custer Elementary School sparks concern among p - KOTA Territory News

Weapon-threat at Custer Elementary School sparks concern among parents

A rumor in the hallway had law enforcement searching the nooks and crannies of Custer Elementary School.

Sergeant Slade Heeb, Custer County Sheriff’s office, says five agencies responded to a 911 call about a threat at the school after 3:00 p.m. Wednesday. “It was a student that had heard something in the hallway – heard of another student with a weapon in the school,” said Heeb.

Heeb says the school shootings across the nation were fresh in the kids’ minds, and since the police at been at the school earlier that day for a separate incident, a story began to circulate. “Active imaginations and it just kinda evolved as it went down the hallway,” said Heeb.

After just seven minutes, officers declared the school safe; there wasn’t a student with a weapon inside. “Our training kicked in and we worked well together. It was kinda seamless,” said Heeb.

But Wednesday night, families weren’t exactly sure what happened. “My granddaughter, she had the rumor that there were knives and drugs and that it started with one individual,” said Donald Parsons, a grandparent.

Thursday morning deputies and school staff answered questions in the school’s gymnasium. Many parents say they’re upset they weren’t notified about the incident until 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night. School staff say the school-notification system failed to send an earlier message. That is something authorities say they’ll look into.

Parents also say they want school authorities to create a tighter lockdown procedure if a threat comes when students are in hallways or outside the building. Others say they wish the high school next door had also been on lockdown, in case the threat been more widespread.

Principal Heather Hiltunen, Custer Elementary School, says these suggestions will be taking into consideration, as the school already collaborates with the sheriff’s office.

While parents did have their concerns, many thanked law enforcement, both verbally and by clapping, for their efficient response. 

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