Local school officials squelch false rumors about violence
GYPSUM — Rumors about a possible act of violence in a local high school were groundless, but school officials spent hours investigating anyway, just in case.
“With the historical and recent events in Colorado we know that incidents of school violence are all too real,” Eagle Valley High School Principal Greg Doan wrote in a letter to parents. “We are appreciative that the students and parents in our community immediately let us know when they heard any information that was concerning to them. Being aware and having communication are the best preventative measures.”
The rumors began circulating last week about a group of students talking about committing an act of violence at the school, Doan said.
Doan, school resource officer Tad Degen with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and assistant superintendent Mike Gass went to work immediately, trying to track down the source.
“In the after-school hours we followed up on the limited information that was provided,” Doan said.
They found no credible evidence that the threat was real, Doan said, but that didn’t stop parents and students from calling with the same basic information the following day.
Administrator and investigators continued questioning students and scouring social media, but no one could provide any clues about where the rumors were coming from, or identify a person of interest, Doan said.
“From what we were able to gather everything was coming from second-hand sources, hearsay and rumors,” Doan said. “Nothing indicates that a threat was ever made which could be identified by a direct source or even through social media (Facebook, email, text messages, etc.).”
When they were finally certain the rumors were groundless, they went from class to class to discuss their investigation with students.
“We did this to let students all know directly that we were aware and followed through with due diligence,” Doan said. “Our goal was to communicate that EVHS is safe; however, we also know that the mere discussion of school violence can create anxiety.”
Doan sent home a letter to parents stating that it was a rumor and nothing more, but that they take this sort of thing seriously.
The problem is that in this day and age, starting such a rumor is not only reckless but can have some serious criminal consequences, said Dan Dougherty, the school district’s communications director.
“They found nothing; that’s the good news,” Dougherty said. “The bad news is that if law enforcement had been able to determine who started this it could have some serious criminal consequences.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.