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Tuesday, January 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Cheney Middle School shooting threat ‘not credible,’ principal says

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 24, 2019

Cheney Middle School had an increased police presence Tuesday after a student reported a school shooting threat written inside a sixth-grade girls restroom stall on Monday.

In an email Tuesday afternoon, Cheney Middle School Principal Mike Stark told the community that the source of the threat had been found after an “extensive investigation” by the middle school administration, district administrators and the Cheney Police Department.

“We are pleased to share the threat was not credible and all students continue to be in a safe place,” Stark said in the email.

“First and foremost, I’m relieved,” Stark said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “Anytime something like that happens, there’s a story behind it.”

While the student who made the threat has been identified by investigators, there are no plans to share further information about what led up to the incident, Stark said.

“Although we probably can’t give parents the level of detail they would like to have, I always ask, ‘What if that was your kid?’ ” Stark said of the student.

Many district administrators and both of the district’s school resources officers, who are normally placed at Cheney High School and a West Plains school, were present when students arrived Tuesday morning, Cheney Public Schools Superintendent Rob Roettger said.

Cheney police also increased the number of patrols in the area, and parents were out in force to encourage students that it was safe to be at school, Roettger said.

“We had parent groups at both entrances of the school and they had donuts welcoming kids,” he said. “Parents really rallied this morning.”

For Stark, the community support turned the incident from something that could elicit fear to a loving and positive situation, he said.

“I was excited to see all the family support we had at school today,” Stark said. “It was such a positive environment, at one point in time there was 200 kids in the commons eating breakfast together and singing country songs.”

The threat was initially reported close to 2 p.m. on Monday, at which point Cheney police were contacted, Roettger said. The school resource officers started reviewing video footage of who entered the bathroom with administrators while they discussed safety precautions.

Stark sent an email at about 4 p.m. Monday after school was out to inform families about the measures the school would have in place Tuesday.

According to Stark’s email the threat read, “Next School Shoting 9/23/19 or 9/24/19.”

Administrators and school resource officers started interviewing students identified from video footage Tuesday morning to determine who wrote the message, according to Roettger.

Roettger said the district did not discuss closing the middle school for the day. The district encounters several incidents of a similar nature throughout each academic year at different schools, he said.

“That’s the sad state things are in today,” he said. “If we start closing school every time someone writes in a bathroom stall, that’s going to put us in a difficult situation.”

Roettger said administrators and school resource officers are discussing safety precautions for the rest of this week.

“Our kids should come to school knowing they are safe, so these kinds of things are really discouraging,” he said.

People with information about the incident are asked to call the middle school’s office at (509) 559-4400 or to contact Stark at (509) 559-4409 or mstark@cheneysd.org.

Spokesman-Review reporter Emma Epperly contributed to this story.

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