There was a sense of peace at Lewis Central High School Monday morning, after Council Bluffs Police responded to a threat over the weekend.
Two juveniles were taken into custody Sunday by Council Bluffs Police officers after they posted a threat on Snapchat to commit a mass shooting at the school.
“It’s actually calm at the school,” Superintendent Eric Knost said Monday morning. “I spent most of the morning there. I think the best thing we can do is have a presence of familiar adults.”
There was also a police presence at the school Monday.
“I’m very pleased with the police response,” Knost said. “They quickly identified that it wasn’t credible – that’s always what we’re looking for to tell parents.”
“With the work the Council Bluffs Police Department did in their immediate and definitely timely response, we were able to get things out to parents rather quickly,” Principal Joel Beyenhof said.
While Facebook posts showed that some parents still were not sure the school was safe Monday morning, there did not seem to be a significant dip in attendance, said Knost and Beyenhof.
“I think when you have something like this, you always have parents who exercise their right to keep kids home – and if it makes them feel safe, we support that,” Knost said. “Kids need normalcy.”
It’s not the first time Knost has dealt with threats to schools under his supervision.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life in this business, and we’ve always had things like this pop up once in a while,” he said.
Early in his career, it was phone calls, which originally could not be traced, Knost said. Then it was phone calls that had to be traced, and then it was electronic media, then social media.
“The addition of social media and how fast something travels … makes it hard,” he said. “Something can travel really fast to a lot of people and get people really worked up.”
Council Bluffs Police began an investigation immediately after receiving information of the threat, according to a press release the department posted Sunday night. It was determined that several juveniles who attend Lewis Central High School had discussed how a mass shooting incident could occur at the school. All students were located and interviewed by law enforcement. Police are not releasing the identities of the youth involved because of their ages.
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber was consulted with the results of the investigation. Two of the juveniles were charged with threat of terrorism, which is a Class D Felony, the press release stated. Both juveniles were taken into custody on this charge and are being held at the Southwest Iowa Juvenile Detention Center, police said.
“Lewis Central and the Council Bluffs Police Department do not take such comments lightly, and we greatly appreciate the support provided from the police to make sure any individuals making such comments are held accountable for their actions,” Beyenhof said in an email sent to parents.
The Council Bluffs Police Department believes that the threats were not credible, as the juveniles did not have the means to carry out their threats, the release stated.
“We would like to thank the public for their timely reporting of this incident,” the press release from the police department stated.