Matter Still Being Investigated By Authorities

By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
All roads leading in and out of Lincoln High School were closed on Wednesday, October 9th when the school was placed on lock-down due to a security threat.  Cars of concerned parents lined the cemetery lanes across from the high school as parents awaited news from law enforcement officers following their search of the facility.

Shortly after celebrating its 2019 Homecoming event the first weekend in October, Lincoln High School suffered some security issues at the school.  Shinnston Police Chief Jon Harbert said that on Sunday morning there was a social media post predicting a shooting incident would take place at Lincoln High School.  After officials spoke with the FBI, it was determined that there are several high schools with the name ‘Lincoln High School’ in the United States, and this particular threat was associated with Lincoln High School in Ohio.

“This person had no ability to carry out the threat, but an adult in California was arrested for that posting,” Chief Harbert said.

Later on Sunday evening, a snapchat post referred to unnamed students who intended to bring a gun to school – Lincoln High School in Shinnston.  Both Chief Harbert and LHS Principal Russ McKeen stated following this incident, those involved were identified and contacted and a meeting with the School Board was held on Monday morning.  These students were told not to return to school that week.

As the week began, precautions were taken and Mr. McKeen noted that the school staff already had plans to meet with the student body to discuss being responsible when utilizing social media.

“We cautioned our students about passing along what could be misinformation and told them ‘If you see something, say something – but say it by reporting it to parents, school administrators, or law enforcement’.  The wrong thing to do is to continue to spread postings with friends through social media.  Our goal was to educate the students on how to handle something like this, and we’re sure parents also try to do the same thing at home,” Mr. McKeen said.   “It was a very timely meeting with our students in lieu of the potential threats that were being made and directed at our school.”

Principal McKeen stated that Tuesday’s threat was intercepted without any harm being done and he thought everything was well in hand; however, shortly after school resumed last Wednesday, October 9th, he was alerted of yet another threat  that something was going to occur that day at Shinnston’s Lincoln High School that came through the Safe Schools Hotline.

“This time the details were very specific and too much to ignore, so the authorities were alerted and our school went into ‘code yellow’, indicating a precautionary security issue,” McKeen continued.

Shinnston Police Chief Jon Harbert said that because a potential shooting was reported, his officers received aid from police departments in Clarksburg and Bridgeport, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, WV State Police, the FBI, and ATF.

“The school was placed on lock-down, all students were scanned, and law enforcement made thorough sweeps of every room in the school,” Chief Harbert added.  “Students were placed in one central area after being scanned while the facility was completely searched.  Nothing was found, and in the early afternoon hours, the lock-down was lifted and those students whose parents didn’t come to take them home finished out the day at school.”

Mr. McKeen said he was grateful for the rapid response of law enforcement and for their thorough handling of the situation.

“I am thankful too for the support of the Board of Education, the patience and cooperation of parents, the professional way our staff performed, and our students were fantastic about carrying out the orders of the law enforcement officers who took charge of the situation,” Mr. McKeen said.  “In addition to educating our students, we are charged with their safety, and we exhibited that we were prepared.  However, we will continue to evaluate our processes moving forward and try to make improvements now that we have experienced this.”

McKeen noted that he had received good feedback from parents and appreciated the fact that they place their trust in the school.  He also said that he was extremely proud of the way the students handled themselves during what was a situation of real concern.

Because of the close proximity of Lincoln Middle School, it was also placed on lock-down that day.  Thankfully, no weapons were found and no threat was carried out, but a full investigation is still underway to find those responsible for instigating the threat.  Chief Harbert said the investigation is being led by SPD but is a cooperative effort with county and state law enforcement as well as the FBI.

At press time, there was no update to give on the progress of the investigation; however, Mr. McKeen concluded that he and law enforcement  have been as transparent with information as they can be at this point without breaching the investigation.

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