Additional police officers were present at Roswell High School Friday in response to a threat someone had written in a school restroom.
An image circulating through social media displays a statement written in marker stating, “I’m going to shoot up this school on 2/23/18.” An additional note to its side, which was incorrectly spelled read “Be redy.”
The RPD’s public information officer, Todd Wildermuth, said the threat was discovered Thursday and that police are continuing to investigate the matter.
In a statement from Susan Sanchez, the interim superintendent of the RISD requested that parents communicate with their children and explain how threats of violence could be met with criminal charges, suspension or expulsion.
“Due to the serious nature of the threats, I urge all parents to talk to their children about the serious consequences that will occur even if it was intended to be a joke,” Sanchez said.
RISD said many schools sent out robocalls as police investigated threats of violence, which were described as anonymous threats written in bathroom stalls at Goddard High School, Berrendo Middle School, Sierra Middle School, Roswell High School and Mesa Middle School these past two weeks.
Sanchez said she is working collaboratively with all RISD principals and authorities to ensure the safety of students and staff.
“The RISD is taking all precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” she said. “We are continuing our drills and lockdown procedures that our students and staff have been trained in and have prepared for in our schools.
Sanchez said active shooter training is continuing across the school district.
The Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, RPD, and New Mexico State Police have all reached out to provide these exercises, she said.
“I want to thank all of the law enforcement agencies for their support and collaboration efforts to ensure the safety of our schools,” Sanchez said. “Should you or your child have any information regarding any of these threats, please report them to your school administration or law enforcement agency.
“Thank you for your help in ensuring the safety in our schools.”
These incidents expand farther than Chaves County, as school officials across the state have reported similar problems in recent weeks.
Sixteen-year-old Jonathan Flores, a sophomore at Belen High School was charged with assault on school personnel, public nuisance, disturbing lawful assembly, disorderly conduct, unlawful use of a telephone and interference with an education system after he had made violent threats to his school in Belen via Snapchat on Wednesday, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
Twenty-five-year-old Sebastian Jarvison, of Brimhall, was arrested by the FBI Thursday after authorities said his Facebook posts allegedly included threats to shoot a school and place a bomb on a plane.
Nineteen-year-old John Russell Williams, of Farmington, is accused of replying to a school shooting threat on Facebook with a slang term meaning “let’s do it.” Williams is also facing state charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico announced the charges in the two cases Friday, saying they stemmed from tips the FBI and other law enforcement had received.
The Farmington Municipal School District resulted with an increased police presence for the remainder of the school year after a teenage girl was charged with making a threat via social media, targeting Tibbetts Middle School this past week, the Farmington Daily Times reports.
Artesia Public School students were met with a two-hour delay Friday morning as the Artesia Police Department pursued information involving a possible threat near Park Junior High School.
“The general incident centered somewhere around there,” said APD Cmdr. Lindell Smith.
Smith said while the general threat was later determined not to be credible, authorities must take each matter seriously.
“We have to deal with it,” he said. “We worked closely with the schools and planned together in place to protect the children first and foremost and got a plan together with the schools.”
Smith said he expects the investigation to take several steps.
“Some of those steps can happen fairly quickly, and some of those steps take a while,” he said. “Every investigation that we do is different and every investigation that we do somewhat goes in different directions.”
Smith said the investigation of the incident will be completed when the APD has an appropriate amount of evidence, and whether any charge or charges would lead to a successful prosecution.
Smith also encouraged parents to keep an eye on their children.
“Stay involved with your kids,” he said. “See what’s happening in their lives.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.