Lancaster parents are applauding the actions of high school students that led to the arrest of two of their peers accused of threatening to “shoot up” the school.
Lancaster police and investigators responded to concerns from students and parents at Lancaster High School on Feb. 16, after students heard two of their peers discussing “shooting up the school,” according to the department. Two students were arrested.
Similar incidents have been occurring across the country after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Nikolaus Cruz, 19, is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the shooting.
A Broome High School student in Spartanburg was arrested earlier this month after officials said he circulated an apparent threat against his school on Snapchat while referencing the Florida school shooting.
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Brad Small, a Lancaster native who has children in Lancaster elementary, middle and high schools, said it is a good thing the students felt comfortable enough to report what they heard.
“It’s alarming that kids want to copycat or do harm to kids,” Small said. “To me as a parent, that is a big positive when kids feel empowered and encouraged to go to administration.”
To me as a parent, that is a big positive when kids feel empowered and encouraged to go to administration.
Brad Small, Lancaster parent
A 15-year-old student, who is not named due to his age, was interviewed and transported to a local hospital for evaluation on Feb. 16, police say. That student was charged on Feb. 17 with disturbing schools, and was taken to the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice center in Columbia.
Another student, 17-year-old Launte Ahmadre Holmes of Lancaster, was arrested and charged on Feb. 19 with disturbing schools in relation to the threat, police say. Holmes was released on bond.
A parent notified school officials of the situation, police said. Investigators launched an in-depth investigation into the validity and specific nature of the allegations, police say.
Police say they do not believe there is any further threat to Lancaster High School students.
“The Lancaster Police Department and the Lancaster County School District are committed to providing a safe learning environment for our children,” Lancaster police said. “As such, we will continue to fully investigate any actions or information that might come to our knowledge.”
Jackie Harris, whose grandson attends Lancaster High School, said the school’s principal, Rosalyn Mood, took the threat seriously and alerted parents to the situation.
“Transparency by administration is very important to parents, and it makes parents feel confident in sending their children to school each day,” Harris said.
Administrators can’t do it all by themselves. ...We as parents have to get more involved.
Jackie Harris, Lancaster parent
Small, a member of Lancaster High’s School Improvement Council, said the measures Lancaster County School District has taken to increase security at schools have made students safer.
School districts in York, Chester and Lancaster have taken steps to improve security.
Lancaster has more than 1,000 cameras installed on buses and monitoring halls, common areas, entrances and outside areas of schools, said David Knight, spokesperson for the district. It also has school resource officers on site.
Lancaster also has installed metal detectors, used randomly throughout the district’s schools, and it conducts random canine drug and weapons searches during the school year.
“Anything you can do try to alter what someone is trying to do is a positive,” Small said. “Every day I drop three of my kids off in the Lancaster County School District and feel safe.”
Harris said it takes more than just school administration to keep students safe.
“Administrators can’t do it all by themselves,” she said. “We as parents and community leaders have to support what the school is doing. We as parents have to get more involved.”
Check back for updates.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082