A potential threat at Grand County High School on May 22 was investigated by the Moab City Police Department, but officers and school officials said they found no evidence of any threat or danger.
Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder said, “We received a report that there was a student that had come to the high school and was in possession of a gym bag, and when he set the bag down, there was a sound made of a metallic clink.”
Some students who were concerned about the duffel bag, shared the information with teachers, who in turn contacted the assistant principal, according to Dr. Stephen Hren, GCHS principal.
The suspicious duffel bag was checked by officials, but nothing to substantiate a threat was found.
As the concern for a potential threat was being investigated, Hren said that gossip about the incident began to “spread like wildfire” through social media and texting.
When school officials contacted the Moab City Police Department, officers responded immediately and began an investigation.
“The administration along with the police have immediately, and thoroughly, investigated the allegations and there is no substantiation to the claim,” Hren said.
Hren said a school lockdown was not initiated as the investigation into the alleged threat was conducted.
“It wasn’t warranted,” he said. “If it was warranted, by all means, there would have been [a lockdown].”
Grand County School District Superintendent JT Stroder did not immediately return a call for comment.
Hren was not willing to disclose the grade-level of the high school students who became concerned about the presence of the duffel bag, or of the student who carried the duffel bag. Winder said the student with the duffel bag was a male.
“School officials and police contacted the male student, and all he had was bicycle parts,” Winder said. “The only issue we had was a report of this metallic sound, which was successfully resolved.”
Winder said the male student who carried the duffel bag was acting rather “innocently,” and said there was no prior history of the student being involved with any incidents or reports concerning school safety in the past.
Hren said there is no ongoing threat to the safety of students at the school in regard to the allegation, but stressed that officials want students to “continue to be open and talk to us, so we can continue to check into these types of situations.”
“One of the things we want to reiterate is that we want students to tell us these things. That’s the big takeaway from today, is that we want that communication,” Hren said.
Hren said the school performs safety drills periodically and said, “We’re no different than the average school.”
Changes are being implemented to improve school safety, according to school district officials.
On May 21, Stroder said the school district is beginning construction in June at the high school and technical center to make safety improvements.
“We are changing the entrances and the way that people are funneled through the building,” Stroder said.
Hren said the construction will be completed before students return to school in the fall.
Winder said the police department has been working closely with the school district in the past few months. Moving forward, Winder said there is likely to be a notification system put into place to send alerts and information to people about incidents when they are taking place at the schools.
The reported concern over the duffel bag generated a significant amount of “peripheral rumors,” Winder said, before the school district and police department were able to give an official response to the investigation.
“I hope we can get the public to understand … if they will wait to draw any conclusions, until we can investigate and generate a formal statement with the school and law enforcement,” Winder said.
Officials said they don’t want students to feel like they can’t talk about what is happening at the school when an incident is being investigated, but they also urged that students not necessarily believe rumors that may quickly circulate by texting or other means.
Officials check duffel bag, no threat to student safety found