EXETER — One day after students at Wyoming Area Secondary Center stood in solidarty against gun violence, their school was thrown into chaos Thursday by an alleged threat against the facility.
The result was a lengthy lockdown, a lost day and frayed nerves for many — but no weapon, Superintendent Janet Serino said in a statement released to the media Thursday afternoon.
One “suspect” was identified by officials, Serino added, but no further information about that person was released.
“At approximately 8:15 this morning, I received notification that a threatening message was written on the wall in the boys’ restroom. As a precaution, an administrative lockdown was put into place,” Serino’s statement continued.
Images circulating on social media showed what some parents said was a Snapchat picture of the message, referencing a planned shooting. Serino did not describe the contents of the message, nor did she address those images.
Police were called and immediately began investigating the threat. Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis also confirmed her office was notified of an alleged threat at the school.
“Metal detectors were used, and the entire building was searched, including all student lockers,” Serino added.
The lockdown continued until about 1:30 p.m., at which time students were dismissed for the day.
‘It was just scary’
Patti Aufiere, of West Pittston, said her daughter Alana, a student, texted her immediately after the lockdown was in place. Patti said she rushed down to the school, where she met several other parents who were waiting for more information.
“Everyone was like ‘are they going to let them out?’” Patti said. “We were just worrying if everyone was safe.”
Lynn Burbank, of West Pittston, has a son in seventh grade, and she said administration reached out to parents for the first time at 8:38 a.m. to notify them of the lockdown.
“I saw no reason to go (to the school),” Burbank said. “I thought they handled it well.”
Alana Aufiere said students were kept in their classrooms while police went door to door with the detectors.
“They made us put all our stuff on the desk and made us go through it,” she said. “It was just scary.”
Burbank said the school called about two times after the initial call to update parents on the status of the lockdown. She added her son was also allowed to use his cell phone to communicate with her.
Because of the school’s open communication, and being able to stay in contact with her son, she remained calm throughout the situation.
“I never felt like he was threatened,” Burbank said.
The lockdown occurred a day after students at the school participated in a national walkout to remember the 17 people killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
When a police K-9 unit came out after searching the school, anxious parents started clapping and thanking them.
“Job well done,” one parent yelled to the officers.
“The cops did a great job,” Burbank said. “They kept my kid safe.”