Phone threat prompts school lockdown
Feb 13, 2013 (The Deming Headlight - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Deming Public Schools were locked down for about 30 minutes Tuesday morning after New Mexico State Police were alerted to a possible incident within one of the schools.
According to NMSP spokesman Lt. Robert McDonald, the agency was contacted by the Children, Youth and Families Department and notified that a man had left a threatening message with the department.
"We originally got the word that the message said he was going to go to the school and shoot somebody," he said. "After listening to the actual message, the shooting was never anything used in the message."
When they first heard that the man threatened a shooting, the NMSP sprung into action along with the Deming Police Department, Luna County Sheriff's Office and Deming Public Schools to have the district schools locked down.
"Had we known that the word shooting was never in the message, we probably wouldn't have taken such drastic action right off the bat," he explained.
The message actually said the man planned to go to a school -- not specified by law enforcement -- to cause a "ruckus."
"In light of all the situations that are happening nationwide with the latest school shooting in Newton (Sandy Hook Elementary), we're definitely not going to take any chances when it comes to information like this," he explained. "We take any threat seriously until we look at it, assess it and make a decision from there."
According to the NMSP, the man is not the father of a student within DPS, but the
boyfriend to a woman whose student attends one of the district schools. It was unclear exactly why he was upset and left the message, but Lt. McDonald said the message said "something wasn't done" about a case.
The man, whose identity was not released, has not yet been charged with any crime. Lt. McDonald said the case is still under investigation and he is not sure if any charges will be filed.
The schools do have a system to send mass notifications to parents, but according to Mary Lou Cameron, an associate superintendent who directs the system, the schools were notified by law enforcement not to send out an alert that the schools were on lockdown. The reasoning is to avoid a mass rush of parents to the schools, which could complicate the situation and put more in possible danger.
But she did say the schools are working to revamp messages they can send out to notify parents when a situation has ended.
The last local school lockdown came in 2012 when a man was spotted walking through the Deming High School campus with a bow in hand. He was on the way to a pawn shop, but his presence alerted authorities and resulted in police investigating while the school was locked down.
Matt Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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