DeRidder Junior High goes on high alert

By By Lauren Manary / American Press

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.”