Sheriff’s Department investigates threat at Trinity

A threat on social media made against students at a Seymour parochial school led to the arrest of a 15-year-old Wednesday morning and another school system placing all of its schools on soft lockdowns.

“I received notice of a social media post that indicated a possible threat to students,” said Daniel Sievert, principal at Trinity Lutheran High School.

“According to our protocol, law enforcement was immediately contacted, they arrived quickly, began the investigation and resolved the situation,” he added.

Jackson County Sheriff Michael Carothers said several officers were dispatched to the school, and they arrested a 15-year-old girl and took her to the Jackson County Juvenile Detention Center. The girl, who was not armed, faces a charge of intimidation.

As a result of the threats, all Seymour Community Schools were placed on a soft lockdown, meaning the interior and exterior doors were locked and no one was allowed to enter or leave each building for about an hour Wednesday morning.

The schools’ resource officer, Keith Williams, said the decision was made as a precautionary measure.

“It’s just like if you would hear there is a tornado in the area, you error on the safe side,” Williams said. “We always go into a lockdown if there is a threat in the area. We can always steps things back down if it turns out to be nothing, which it did.”

With recent threats being made against students in Plainfield and Danville on Indianapolis’ far west side making national news, parents and others are questioning schools’ safety and whether threats against schools are becoming a trend.

“With social media, with news, everybody is on edge just because we are all so connected,” Williams said. “The Internet and media brings all these threats closer to home even if they are far away.”

Despite continued reports of school threats in news and social media, neither Carothers or Williams believe it to be a sign of an increase.

“Will there be more than there has been in the past? No, I don’t think so,” Carothers said.

Williams said in the past, similar threats might have been made but dismissed as a misunderstanding or “idle threats” and never followed up on, but because the threats are made in a semi-permanent and easily available manner, police are required to take them seriously. Social and news media can lead to the belief that events like the one Wednesday are becoming common, he added.

“There is so much information (available) that people are more aware of things going on in the global community,”  Williams said of the seeming uptick in such incidents.

Williams said students need to understand what they post on social media can be taken out of context or exaggerated and that they need to think before they post something. Simple off-handed comments can be taken the wrong way, landing the person in trouble and maybe even in jail, he said.

“It’s like that old game, you say one thing and it changes till it’s not what you said,” Williams added.

Police departments take all threats seriously.

“We practice active shooter drills. We take these things very seriously. The guys we had today were driving there hard, lights and sirens,” said Carothers.

When the sheriff’s department learned of the threat, both Seymour Police Department and the Indiana State Police were notified to see if they had any units closer to respond. 

“They all did an excellent job,” Carothers said. “They knew what protocol was, followed it and nobody got hurt.”

Williams echoed much of the same sentiment, reporting the school lockdown ran smoothly and without problems.

“We do take precautions and make sure the kids are safe. We’re safe and everybody goes home at the end of the day,” he said.

Author photo
Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.