WEST BRANCH, Iowa - Counting the recent threats directed at schools is not something anyone wants to do, but Local 4 News is doing it after noticing more of the unusual activity.
By our count, there have been nine in the Quad Cities area since the shooting in Parkland, Florida.
That's just two weeks.
Here's a breakdown of the recent reports:
- A student at Sudlow Intermediate in Davenport was removed from school on Monday for making verbal threats.
- On Tuesday, all schools in Fulton, Illinois, were placed on lockdown because of a threat.
- On Wednesday, all three schools in West branch, Iowa were closed. A high school student is now charged with disorderly conduct for that threat.
Redmond Jones is the West Branch City Administrator. The threat hits close to home for the dad of two.
"It can hit anywhere. If we think it's a safe place that it won't, I think we're probably not dealing with reality, unfortunately," says Jones.
That reality hit Jones this week, after a high school student made a threat that forced all three schools to cancel classes.
It was a moment that Jones found hard to explain to his kids.
"My daughter wanted to know why she didn't go to school and so you try to talk that through without scaring them, but also being prepared," he says.
Neighbors in West Branch aren't alone.
School districts on the Illinois side of the river are also tallying up threats.
Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee says he's recently had two people charged with threatening a school, one juvenile and one adult.
"It's something we're very concerned about and law enforcement, they're on kind of a heightened state of concern after a school shooting because of copycats," says McGehee.
Many of those threats are found to be a joke by a student.
But McGehee says for people on the front lines, every message is treated as a real danger until proven otherwise.
"We take these threats extremely seriously and our general policy is to detain these individuals... Pending their hearing," he says.
And while a threat can be determined a joke, it's a danger many parents are struggling to convey.
"I want my child to be aware, but not to the point where she can't enjoy the experience of going to school," Jones says.
"I think that's the challenge that all parents are having right now across the country."
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