UPDATE: Rumors of Violence Threats Unfounded at Winfield Middle School

By: Brooks Jarosz, Anna Baxter Email
By: Brooks Jarosz, Anna Baxter Email

UPDATE 10/22/12 @ 2:55 p.m.
WINFIELD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Parents were in panic following rumors a student planned to bring a gun to school surfaced on social media websites.

Winfield Police tell WSAZ.com the 911 center in Putnam County was inundated with phone calls from concerned parents Sunday evening.

Police say more than one dozen parents reported commentary on a student at Winfield Middle School who threatened to bring a weapon into school Monday.

"This is a classic example of bullying and the result of bullying," Police Chief John Perrine said. "When they get frustrated they act out, and this was a form of acting out and making a verbal threat that was inappropriate."

Chief Perrine says the student made verbal threats Friday in retaliation to a bullying incident at the school. The school's resource officer, Mike Kordusky, confirmed the student was a target of bullying during lunch and recess.

"It's not just a fun, kid thing, it's a very serious problem we have in our schools today," Officer Mike Kordusky said. "A lot of violence is linked to bullying."

Kordusky says students were throwing stones until the other student became frustrated and aggressive toward the bullies. Police say that included a verbal threat of physical violence, however, no evidence suggests the student threatened to bring a weapon or bomb to school.

"It got picked up by students, students tell their parents, parents tell other parents," Perrine said. "It goes through the social network and that's where the frenzy came in."

The student suspected of bringing a weapon to school was met by the resource officer and school administrators when he arrived. Police say the student was interviewed and no weapons were found.

Penny Fisher with the Putnam County Board of Education says the rumor he was going to bring a gun to school was quickly shared and fed through social media over the weekend.

Winfield Middle School Principal Gary Cook says they're trying to figure out how the rumor got started. He says they took every precaution possible.

"The children's safety is our number one concern," Principal Cook said. "We take everything serious."

The school is operating normally and police say there's no danger to the students, faculty or visitors of the school.

Several parents tell WSAZ.com they chose to not send their kids to school after hearing and seeing the rumors on Facebook and Twitter.

Police say the incident supports the need for law enforcement presence in Winfield schools and all schools across the country. Mayor Randy Barrett says this is proof having a school resource officer is worthwhile.

"He makes the school safer and the kids respect him and the teachers like him," Mayor Barrett said. "I just think it's making all of the schools a safer place to be."

The school resource officer also teaches students beginning in elementary school about the consequences of bullying and cyber bullying.

"We try to educate the children so that they understand the severity of bullying," Kordusky said.

School leaders say the school is safe and things are operating as normal.

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ORIGINAL STORY
PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Rumors of a student bringing a gun to a school in Putnam County turned out to be just that -- rumors.

Penny Fisher with the Putnam County School Board tells WSAZ.com a rumor surfaced on Social Media over the weekend that a student was going to bring a gun to Winfield Middle School on Monday. That rumor was quickly shared and fed through social media. Concerned parents contacted school officials and police Sunday to make them aware of the situation, according to Fisher.

After an investigation, Fisher says there was no evidence there was any truth to the rumor, but as a precaution extra steps were taken to make sure students felt safe as they headed to school Monday.

Officers with the Winfield Police Department were at the school Monday, according to Principal Gary Cook.

Principal Cook tells WSAZ.com “the children’s safety is our number one concern... we take everything serious.”

School leaders have interviewed several students about the rumor to figure out how it got started.

Again, there was no truth to the rumor, according to school leaders.

The school is operating on a normal schedule Monday.


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