Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Rumor of violence at CHS has officials taking precautions

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By KEVIN NEVERS

An unsubstantiated and so far untraceable rumor—which has it that some form of violence is going to occur at a scheduled pep rally on Friday at Chesterton High School—is prompting the Duneland School Corporation and the law enforcement agencies serving it to take precautionary measures.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a former Portage HS student was arrested on a charge of intimidation after he reportedly posted on his Facebook page his intention to kill “a few people.”

It’s unknown whether the alleged Facebook threat is in any way connected to the rumor about CHS, although one permutation of that rumor is that the student planning to disrupt the CHS pep rally has associates both at Portage HS and at Wheeler HS.

Wheeler HS was on lockdown today in response.

CHS today was not on lockdown this morning—whatever exactly that means—DSC Superintendent Dirk Baer told the Chesterton Tribune. There is, however, an “extra police presence” at CHS, he said, as there has been all week after the school shooting in Connecticut on Dec. 14, and “we’ve stepped up security measures. Every time you go by, you see a police car.”

There will also be an “increased law enforcement presence” at the pep rally on Friday, in advance of the basketball team’s homecoming game against Valparaiso HS. As of deadline today, that pep rally had not been canceled. “I talked with Principal Jim Goetz and he was of the opinion to have it,” Baer said. “He has not made the decision to cancel it. Right now it’s on. But of course that can be changed very quickly.”

Baer emphasized that both DSC officials and law enforcement are investigating the rumor but haven’t succeeded in tracing it to any one person, as numerous students have heard it but none of them knows where it originated. “We’ve been unable to substantiate the rumor. We’ve got nothing to hang our hat on.”

Numerous parents have heard the rumor too, DSC Security Officer Steve Rohe noted. “We’ve been fielding multiple calls from concerned parents.”

Late on Wednesday Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski told the Tribune that measures are in place in response to the rumor. He declined to discuss those measures in detail, except to say that officers are being tasked to the school and school property and that other officers are readily available.

Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain—whose jurisdiction includes Liberty Elementary and Intermediate, Jackson Elementary, and Brummitt Elementary—also said that his officers have been making their presence known and felt this week in the DSC. “When you’re talking risk management, you have to take the safest course of action. And early this morning, after the rumor emerged, I talked to my day shift supervisor and made sure that every school in our jurisdiction has face time with an officer, a squad-car presence.”

“We want administrators and students to know that we’re in the area and walking into the schools,” Lain added. “We’re trying to put some comfort back into the schools.”

Portage Arrest

According to Portage Police, at 4:24 p.m. Brian Aldaz, 18, of 2237 Iris St., was arrested on a charge of intimidation, after a concerned parent reported that Aldaz had posted a “disturbing message” earlier in the day on Facebook.

That message, as attributed to Aldaz by Portage Police, says nothing about school violence: “whens the world suppose to end i cant (expletive) wait >;) before i go imam have the gratitude of killing a few people n then kill some judges and cop:]”

A charge of resisting law enforcement was also filed against Aldaz after Portage Police said that he struggled with officers when taken into custody at his home.

Earlier this week a Cedar Lake man, Von Meyer, 60, was charged with intimidation after he was accused of threatening a massacre at a local school, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Juveniles in Bloomington, Jeffersonville, and Terre Haute are also facing similar charges in unrelated incidents connected with threats of school violence, AP also reported.

Baer messages parents

Around 10 a.m. today parents of Duneland School Corporation students received an automated message from Superintendent Dirk Baer, related to the rumor about possible violence at CHS on Friday.

The text of Baer’s message:

“In the aftermath of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been heightened awareness among Duneland School Corporation’s administrators and staff regarding student safety. Procedures and protocols regarding school safety measures were reviewed again by administrators and staff members earlier this week.

“Recently, a rumor has surfaced that some form of violence was going to occur at a pep rally at Chesterton High School on Friday of this week. Since school officials were first made aware of the alleged event, they have been working with local law enforcement officials in an attempt to verify or substantiate the allegation. School and law enforcement officials continue to investigate the rumor which, thanks to social media and last week’s tragedy at Newtown, Conn., has taken on a life of its own. Thus far, the investigation has not produced any findings that substantiate or lend any credibility to this rumor.

“The safety of our students is our number one priority; however, school and law enforcement officials will continue to investigate this unsubstantiated rumor. There is also an increased presence of law enforcement in and around our schools.” Dr. Baer continued by saying, “we always value the input we receive from our students, staff members and parents regarding matters that may affect the safety of our students.”

 

 

Posted 12/20/2012