Authorities search for a solution to deter fake school shooting threats

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:
The site of the Southwest Florida Juvenile Detention Center. (WINK News photo)
The site of the Southwest Florida Juvenile Detention Center. (WINK News photo)

A judge has sentenced three students for fake threats and they will spend a maximum of 21 days in juvenile detention. However, some parents are worried that the punishment is not severe enough to deter future fake threats at schools.

“When I came Monday I thought, where is everybody?” said Keith Hepler, a grandparent.

Hepler came to pick up his granddaughter at North Fort Myers High School Monday when he found an empty parking lot and extra Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputies.

Two-thirds of the student body skipped school because of a threat that was written in the girls bathroom. The threat referenced a shooting at the school.

Rich Kolko, WINK News safety and security specialist, said the school and law enforcement work quickly to find out who made the threat. An initial step is to determine if the threat is credible.

“You want to find out what their past history was, past criminal history, past threats, any past discipline in the school,” Kolko said.

If the person appears credible, authorities will have to determine if he or she has guns in the house that are accessible.

All of these tasks take several hours of work from investigators and the school district to ensure students are safe.

Grandparents, like Jeanette Johnson, understand most of the threats probably aren’t legit.

“The students that are writing it are not the ones you have to worry about,” Johnson said. “It’s really the ones who are not writing it down that have some issues.”

Johnson said she hopes the School District of Lee County and law enforcement follow through with their no tolerance policy.

“Until they start punishing students fully,” Johnson said, “then I really don’t think it’s going to stop.”

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