Authorities search the area after a woman falsely reported a hostage situation at the Food Stamp Office on Ryan Street midday Monday. Lake Charles police said they responded to a call of a male taking a female hostage. After talking with the woman, authorities realized it was a false alarm, said Deputy Chief Mark Kraus, police spokesman. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, October 28, 2013 6:47 PM
DERIDDER — A local junior high school was on high alert Monday after a student allegedly made threats to bring a weapon to campus and kill students on his “hit list.”
DeRidder Junior High School held classes as normal on Monday, the day the attack was allegedly supposed to occur, but with a noticeable increase in law-enforcement presence.
The student in question, whose name is being withheld because he is a minor, allegedly made the threats on Friday, Oct. 25. He was not in attendance on Monday.
“We deal with these types of things seriously,” said Beauregard Parish Schools Superintendent Timothy Cooley. “The safety of our students is of the utmost concern.”
Cooley said students informed school authorities of the threats last week. He said the DeRidder Police Department investigated the claim and deemed school safe for attendance on Monday.
The school administration called homes on Saturday evening to inform parents that students would be safe, Cooley said.
Social media added fuel to the fire, spreading word to other students and parents that the student allegedly threatened to shoot two students and the assistant principal of DeRidder Junior High School, David Wentzal.
Cooley said the allegation of a “hit list” went unsubstantiated following an investigation. Some 10-15 percent more students than usual were absent Monday, Cooley said.
Parent Neelum Purba wrote on her Facebook page that she was unhappy with the amount of time it took for administration to get the word out that students would be safe on Monday.
“I am more than a little cross that they pulled my child out of class and informed them of the risk of violence without informing us parents,” reads her post, which went up on Oct. 26. “Why couldn’t they have completed their thorough investigation and then send a message saying there was a threat of violence at school and be cautious of coming in Monday? I don’t know that (daughter’s name redacted because she is a minor) is going to shake this off and be ok going back to school Monday. I am glad that we got an all-clear message. I just don’t know if that’s enough for me.”
Cooley would not say whether the student’s absence was permanent or whether it was part of a suspension.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with this in Beauregard Parish,” Cooley said. “So we try to deal with it as quickly and efficiently to ensure the safety of everyone.”