RUPERT — The 18-year-old sister of an East Minico Middle School girl who received a social media threat that disrupted school Friday and heightened police protection across the district said the threatening messages that were sent on Thursday also targeted two other people and the school in general.
The sister, who wishes to remain anonymous for the protection of her sibling, said the Instagram message also targeted another student at the school and one other person. The sister said the sixth-grader did not know the person who sent the messages, and they were “supposed to meet up,” but that never happened.
In the morning the school said the threat was a personal one directed at one student.
The district held “an emergency evacuation drill” at the school on Friday, sending all students to Minico High School. The students were returned to the middle school later Friday morning.
Superintendent Ken Cox said later in an email that the district was not aware of the full content of the messages until later in the morning. The Rupert Police Department had officers at the school all morning as they conducted an investigation. A letter explaining the situation was sent home to parents in the afternoon.
Principal Greg Durrant met police at the school at 7 a.m., and the school was placed on lockdown, the letter says.
Because buses were arriving, a decision was made to run an evacuation drill and have all remaining East Minico students sent to Minico High School. All schools in the district kept students inside as they arrived in the morning, on the advice of police.
Heightened police security at all the buildings was provided during the day.
The girl’s sister said she was aware of many parents who were angry that they were not notified sooner in the day.
“We took these actions as precautionary measures to protect our students,” Cox wrote in the letter to parents. “I apologize for not sending out information to parents and guardians sooner than we did, but (we) wanted to make sure the information we did share was accurate.”
Cox said officials discussed how things could have been done differently to get the word out quicker to parents, and parents with suggestions are welcome to send those to the district.
Students who were kept home because of the incident were excused for the day.
Rupert Police Chief James Wardle said the information police are investigating are that two other people were mentioned in the threat, but the one girl was the target.
Information came in throughout the day in stages, and as it did, people were updated, Wardle said.
“These are my kids in my city and I take this very seriously,” ”Wardle said. “If people want to be mad because I closed the school down, so be it.”
Wardle said police are still investigating the incident by tracing IP addresses and conducting interviews, but no one had been arrested as of Friday afternoon.