GENTRY Police officers and sheriff's deputies were at the doors of Gentry High School on Friday to ensure the safety of students following rumors which circulated via social media that a student had threatened to carry out a shooting at a school event Friday.
The school district released the following statement via social media on Thursday afternoon: "Please be aware that a rumor was circulating at GHS today that caused some concern. As a precaution, while investigating the matter, Superintendent Metz made the decision to cancel the Macho Volleyball Game scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. The rumor has been investigated by the administration and the local police. The rumor was unfounded. As a precaution, the local police department will provide an increased presence around the campuses tomorrow."
According to Keith Smith, chief of the Gentry Police Department, no credible evidence had yet been found to substantiate the rumors being circulated. He said his officers are continuing to investigate every lead but, as of Friday morning, no witnesses had come forward who actually heard the alleged threats and no other evidence to substantiate the threats had been found.
Smith said his department was continuing to follow up on every lead and asked anyone who had heard threats or had any first-hand information on the alleged threats to contact his department immediately. He said his department would turn over any witness statements or evidence received to the prosecuting attorney and request prosecution to the full extent of the law.
Terrie Metz, the superintendent of Gentry Public Schools, said the school district is working with police to follow up on any new information it obtains in regard to the alleged threat.
Gentry Police Department released the following information via its Facebook page Thursday night in regard to the alleged threat:
"The Gentry Police Department, in conjunction with the Gentry School District, is currently looking into rumors of threats made by a student to possibly bring a gun to school and use it during a pep rally.
"Please be assured that the Gentry Police Department takes any and all threats made towards our students and faculty with the highest level of seriousness.
We are looking into every lead with the utmost diligence, and if the threats are found to have any validity at all, we will pursue criminal charges and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
"However, there have been many unsubstantiated rumors going around on this subject. Everyone should know that spreading false information or false leads will not help anyone in this situation.
"With that being said, if anyone has any pertinent information pertaining to this threat, please call the Gentry Police Department immediately."
Anyone with information may call the Gentry Police Department at 479-736-8400.
In an unrelated matter, Smith said a student did bring some knives to Gentry Middle School on Thursday but that no threats were made to use the knives to harm anyone. He said the knives were legal to possess off campus but not on campus and that school officials were handling the matter.
Some social media posts had alleged a lockdown occurred at Gentry Intermediate School on Thursday. Metz said there was no lockdown but a student did report that a construction worker from the adjacent classroom construction site had possibly crossed the fence. Metz said the school district is reviewing security video in regard to the student report.