A Vanguard College Preparatory School student was charged Thursday for making threats about a school shooting earlier this week, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.
Police were called to the school at 2517 Mount Carmel Drive on Tuesday after school staff notified officers that a 14-year-old student made statements on consecutive days about getting a gun and “shooting up the school,” Swanton said. School administration removed the student from the school and expelled him following the threat.
“We had brought to us information that gave us concern that a student made threatening statements,” said Bill Borg, Vanguard’s head of school. “We have a response team in place and we responded immediately and determined there was no imminent danger. At that point, we turned it over to authorities.”
Detectives continued to investigate the statements and determined the boy made several verbal threats toward the school. Swanton said the boy was detained at his home Thursday morning without incident and was taken into custody on a Class B misdemeanor charge of terroristic threat.
Because the student is a juvenile, the boy’s name will not be released, Swanton said.
“Waco Police Department does not and will not take threats such as these lightly. Any and all threats toward our community, especially toward our schools, their staff and/or students,” Swanton said in a statement. “If probable cause is determined an arrest will be made.”
The threat at Vanguard is the first for the school this year, but is at least the fourth threat made to a McLennan County school within the last month.
“We’re like every school,” Borg said. “We constantly look at and figure out the best ways to ensure the safety of the children we’ve been entrusted with.”
The school regularly reviews different responses to security threats with students, including lockdown drills and how to handle a hostile intruder on campus, and will continue to do so going forward, Borg said.
“We remind them constantly,” he said.
Of the other threats, not all were substantiated. Two were reported at Bruceville-Eddy Independent School District in early February, one of which ended in an arrest. And two others were reported at Robinson Junior High School and Midway Middle School in the week following the recent school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead.
The Robinson ISD incident happened the week after the district also fully implemented $2,300 emergency planning software that makes inside knowledge about its facilities easy for first responders to access during dangerous situations, including active-shooter situations. The district is the first in Texas to do so.
The day after the Midway threat, Superintendent George Kazanas sent a letter to parents, highlighting potential additional security measures across the district and current security plans and protocals.
“Like you, I have been rocked by the recent tragedy in Florida that took the lives of innocent children and adults,” Kazanas wrote. “As a citizen, parent and educator, I am deeply saddened by this and every incident of school violence. My heart goes out to the families, loved ones, educators and communities affected by these senseless acts. My thoughts immediately turn to you, as parents/guardians of Midway ISD students, knowing that you are thinking of your child(ren)’s safety during school hours.”
New security measures will include minor renovations to school entrances, and district officials are considering increasing the number of security resource officers.
“Be assured that we are increasing security and safety measures and taking many other precautions to help ensure the well-being of our students,” he wrote. “However, the most effective strategy is for all of us to remain vigilant, aware, observant, and involved. As a district, we rely upon students, parents, educators, and community members to inform us of potentially dangerous situations.”