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Max Lapthorne, Editor
4:50 pm CST December 13, 2018

A gun threat circulating through Snapchat was reported to Lockport Township High School administration following a Thursday, Dec. 13, incident which resulted in a student being charged with aggravated battery.

The Snapchat message indicated that white students would be retaliating against black students by bringing guns to school Friday, Dec. 14, according to a Dec. 14 letter from Superintendent Todd Wernet. The Lockport Police Department and LTHS East Campus administration are investigating the Snapchat post and have interviewed several students, including the student who posted the initial Snapchat message, Wernet stated in the letter. Police and school administrators learned that the “origin of the message apparently came from a conversation between two students after school,” according to the letter.

No specific students were identified by the student who posted the Snapchat message, as they said they did not know the students who made the comments about bringing a gun to school, but that they “posted comments shared with them by another student,” according to Wernet’s letter.

There is to be an increased police presence inside and outside of East Campus for the remainder of the semester, and Hicks was to address the student body the morning of Dec. 14, according to Wernet’s letter. Counselors and social workers are to be available to assist students at East Campus.

After the Dec. 13 incident, rumors spread among students and were shared on social media about safety concerns and a “possible weapon,” which prompted the school administration to move to Code Yellow at 12:15 p.m., according to a Dec. 13 letter from LTHS East Campus Principal Dennis Hicks. Wernet’s letter states that the Code Yellow or “soft” lockdown was initiated after some students reported that they heard a student had brought a gun to school.

During the Code Yellow, students were held in their classrooms and were “encouraged to share any information with deans and administration,” Hicks’ letter stated. The Code Yellow stayed in effect for the remainder of the school day and all after-school activities were canceled.

Lockport Police assisted in the investigation of the rumors of additional safety concerns and a possible weapon, including a search of multiple lockers, but “the rumors were all unsubstantiated,” according to the letter from Hicks, and “no student’s name ever surfaced as allegedly possessing a weapon,” the Wernet letter stated.

The Dec. 13 attack was captured on video, showing the attacker punching and kicking the victim while he was laying on the ground. The student who was attacked was “seriously injured” and was transported to the hospital by an ambulance, Hicks’ letter stated. Lockport Police Chief Terry Lemming said the student came to the police station later in the day on Dec. 13 and told Lemming he “felt fine.”

The attack stemmed from a fight involving four LTHS students on Dec. 7, after which, “rumors about additional conflicts between those students and their groups of friends continued into Friday and throughout the weekend,” according to the letter from Hicks. The letter also stated that the school administration investigated those rumors and found no threat to the school; “however, unrest between these groups of students continued.”

The alleged attacker is a minor, according to Lemming, and is to face school disciplinary charges, Wernet’s letter stated.

In his letter, Wernet said he visited the student who was attacked and “he is eager to return to classes.”

“Fighting or aggressive behavior will not be tolerated at LTHS,” Wernet’s letter stated. “Those involved in such conduct will be severely disciplined.”