Several Jefferson County Schools Receive Threats

DE SOTO, MO (KTVI)– Threats of school violence on social media websites have two Jefferson County School Districts responding with police presence. The De Soto School District sent a letter home to parents after rumors of planned shooting on De Soto school grounds surfaced on Facebook.

The De Soto Police Department launched a full investigation that found the rumors to be unsubstantiated. Police Chief Ernie Paul increased police presence on Thursday as a precautionary measure to increase student and teacher safety.

“We’ve had all of our officers in all the public schools within the city limits,” explained Chief Paul. “We’ve also been in contact with the sheriff’s office who contacted us yesterday. They’ve got their own at the schools outside of the city limits to provide security there.”

The day passed without incident on school grounds. The De Soto school district is closed for the holiday break beginning Friday. Chief Paul said every rumor and potential threat much be investigated to the fullest.

“We believe the messages and stories changed so much,” Paul said. “It was hard to pinpoint where the source of it is, but we still take all threats seriously and acted on that along with the school.”

Festus High School sent a similar letter home to parents this week after violent threats on social media websites (Facebook) targeted Friday’s school day.

“Out of concern for our students’ safety, we’ve been sharing and informing out patrons of those messages,” Festus School District Superintendent Randy Sheriff said. “Just trying to take precautions. You can’t be too overly cautious, and at the same time, we will have increased police presence on our site.”

Festus Police Chief Tim Lewis and his department have been tracking the threats all week long.

“There have been several kids in the Festus area who got visits from police in the last couple days,” Lewis explained. “One in particular, when the police left, the girl was pretty upset, crying over allegations that were supposedly made on Facebook pages.”

The Festus School District has a half-day on Friday. Festus Police will be there in its entirety.

“We want the students to feel secure,” Chief Lewis reinforced. “We want the parents to feel secure. We want everybody to know that nothing is going to happen, but in the rare event that something does. We’re going to be there.”

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