By SEAN ROWLEY
Administrators at Tahlequah Public Schools worked with local police Thursday to create a “heightened” presence at Tahlequah High School after rumors surfaced that a gun might be brought to campus.
TPS Superintendent Lisa Presley said THS School Resource Officer Chris Smith began investigating the report late Wednesday evening.
Presley said THS students were not placed on lockdown Thursday. No gun was found, and police continue to work with school administrators to pin down the source of the rumor.
“We can’t even corroborate this or find anybody who was the source of the rumor,” said Presley. “We take all threats very seriously. As best we can tell, this was just a rumor. I don’t know if someone overheard somebody else and something got twisted into this rumor; we’re not sure, honestly, and we can’t verify where it originated.”
Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said an investigation into the latest rumor led officers to believe it could be a “spin-off” of a threat that surfaced against the school Wednesday, when a student was removed from the THS campus.
That incident occurred in the wake of escalating concern over “confessional” Twitter sites, wherein students discussed explicit sexual fantasies and leveled threats against other people.
But Presley said the threat that led to the student’s removal on Wednesday actually involved an electronic device – another source of recent controversy in the community. School administrators do not believe the rumor involving a gun was directly related to the first incident.
As of about 2 p.m., staff at THS estimated as many as a third of the students had left early because of the rumors. Rumors continued to circulate on social media as parents put out calls for information.
King said police will continue to investigate the source of the latest rumor.
“Any threat of violence will be taken seriously,” said King. “If anyone has any information about where the rumor started, tell a teacher, or a school resource officer, or call the police department.”