August 21, 2014

Elyria
Clear
70°F
test

North Ridgeville Schools, police investigate threats

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — School officials and police are investigating a number of threatening online postings that allege future violence at North Ridgeville High School.

To date, nothing has occurred, but heightened security measures are being taken, including an increased police presence, according to Bill Greene, the district’s executive director of business services.

“These measures will continue and we are looking to add more through the holidays,” Greene said today.

Greene declined to discuss specifics of other security measures being taken or considered at the high school.

“We don’t want to tip our hand to the possible perpetrators,” Greene said.

The investigation was ongoing prior to the deadly shooting Friday in Connecticut in which a gunman shot and killed 20 students and six adults in an elementary school.

Greene said school officials believe the online threats are being made by “past and present students” from the high school.

“We are getting an increasing number of these types of threats,” Greene said.

The threats, and subsequent postings from parents, students and others on Facebook and YouTube, have all pointed to a specific date, which Greene and North Ridgeville High School Principal Patricia Bahr declined to identify.

The threats were first made in the early part of November, Bahr said.

Officials have met with parents of students suspected of making the threats, but no other action has yet been taken, Greene said.

“These kids have been talked to more than once,” Bahr said.

“I can say they discuss doing harm but we do not know by what methods,” Greene said.

Greene said the school system hasn’t discussed installing metal detectors at the doors, but “we wouldn’t rule it out, either.”

According to Greene, concerned parents have been informed of the threats through the school’s automated “alert now” system that sends messages by phone.

“It’s a way to get messages out to a large number of people in a short amount of time,” Greene said.

School officials are working with police, including Officer Calvin Cross, who recently succeeded Sgt. Adam Freas as the department’s school resource officer, according to Greene.

“He’s working primarily at the high school now, and he calls in additional officers as necessary,” Greene said.

In a brief news release issued Friday, Capt. Marti Garrow said police received an anonymous complaint of a “potential threat that was to occur” at the high school.

The release did not cite a date for the threat, or give any details but noted that Cross has looked into the alleged threat with the detective bureau.

“At this time no specific threat or source of any threat has materialized or been identified,” Garrow said. “We have been investigating a rumor that cannot be substantiated.”

Garrow said no further information was available, and that calls from the media were not being accepted.

Police personnel refused to forward calls seeking further comment to Garrow or Police Chief Michael Freeman.

Bahr said the staff in all of the schools is aware of the threats.

Bahr praised the efforts of police including Freeman, whose daughter attends the school.

It was due to Freeman’s efforts that the position of school resource officer, which had been dropped in 2002 due to a lack of money, was restored for the 2011-12 school year when Cross, a 12-year veteran, was named to the post, which deals with school-related issues including thefts, drugs, drinking and assaults.

“Mike was adamant two years ago about returning the officer to the schools,” Bahr said. “He made that a priority after becoming chief. He’s been very hands-on. He’s seen in the buildings and he comes and talks to us, and not just because he has a daughter here.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146  or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.