Gateway Charter High school moves to online instruction amid threat investigation

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

Gateway Charter High School let parents pick up their students early on Tuesday and will go to a fully-mobile learning model on Wednesday amid the investigation into a threat made last week.

The school was locked down for hours Friday, and with security ramped up, it’s causing an “unnecessary distraction” to students, the school said.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation is still active, but there is no danger to students.

The high school’s principal on Friday told WINK News that two students were taken into custody after a threat was made over text, but Sheriff Carmine Marceno said Tuesday they were questioned and released.

“For an actual school shooting to happen scares me because I have a sister over here, and it just makes me feel uncomfortable because I love all of them,” said 11-year-old Angel Cruz Gonzalez.

While Marceno said there isn’t any danger, students and parents still have questions.

“It just scares you because it’s like, what’s going on? You don’t know what to think. I’m like you had the whole weekend to do it, you guys kept the book bags,” said Luz Contreras, parent of three Gateway students.

“My teachers have been saying it’s going to be all right and things like that, but if something actually happens, is there going to be an all right?” asked Angel.

Marceno confirmed someone threatened a mass shooting at the school on Thursday, and he believes that same someone threatened an employee on Friday. Both threats by text came from the same phone numbers.

When parents got an email today, saying they can pick up their kids early and all classes will be online Wednesday, it added to their fear.

“I just don’t know what’s going on. It’s scary. It’s scary to not know that your child is safe when you’re sending them to school,” said Brandy Angus, mother of a Gateway senior.

The sheriff said he needs more tips to find the person or persons responsible.

“My little brother, he goes to the elementary. So he’s little so I want to make sure that he’s fine and great. And so is my sister and my parents. I worry about them the most. Because it really scares me if I just lose one of them,” Angel said.

The school has not yet said what their plans are for classes Thursday and Friday. Next week, everyone is off for Thanksgiving.

Statement from Gateway Charter:

“As Lee County Sheriff’s Office continues its investigation of unsubstantiated non-specific threats to our school, we have decided in an abundance of caution to allow parents to pick up students early today and will go to a fully-mobile model tomorrow as the investigation continues.  Although there is no apparent danger to students, this ongoing investigation and additional police presence at school is causing students an unnecessary distraction. We will continue to monitor the situation and will coordinate with law enforcement.”

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