Arrests made after recent threats at LaFayette High School
LaFayette High School, Eastside Elementary School, and John P Powell Middle School in LaFayette had to follow “secure your area”/secure your perimeter” protocol on Friday and Tuesday due to two separate threats to LaFayette High School, according to CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley. The elementary school and middle school went into secure your area mode only because they are near LaFayette High. Chambley stressed that the schools didn’t go into lockdown, which would only happen if there was an imminent threat.
Chambley said that an adult male had been talking to a female LaFayette High student. On Friday afternoon, Chambley said they seemed to have had a “falling out” or disagreement, which led the man to threaten the student, an upcoming pep rally, and that night’s football game.
“He didn’t ever give a specific threat of what he was going to do,” Chambley said. “He just said he was going to ‘mess it up.’”
The female student reported the threat to the school.
“They got him on the phone and saw that he was not anywhere near the school but that he had said he was going to come to the school,” Chambley said.
LaFayette High, Eastside Elementary, and John P Powell Middle then went into secure your area mode around 2:30 p.m. The protocol stopped being observed around 3:05 p.m. to 3:10 p.m.
On Tuesday, classes at LaFayette High School were delayed due to weather concerns. Chambley said a male LaFayette High student called 911 and asked if school would be in that day. When he received an affirmative answer, he made a shooting threat to his school.
LaFayette High and the other two schools went into secure your area mode around 11:30 a.m. to noon, according to Chambley, and stayed in it until school dismissed.
Police found the student by tracking his phone, Chambley said. He has been apprehended and is facing charges.
“Both individuals will be prosecuted, and both will be held accountable,” Chambley said.
Chambley said the LaFayette Police Department and Chambers County Sheriff’s Department were involved in both incidents.
Chambley explained that Chambers County schools follow three levels of protocol when dealing with threats: heightened awareness, secure your area and lockdown.
He explained that secure your area protocol is followed when a threat could happen but isn’t imminent. School continues as usual but is monitored more closely.
“In a secure your area, basically, all you’re doing is you are securing your outer perimeter, securing all of your students into a classroom or into an area,” Chambley explained. “No one is outside, and all of your travel and all of your movement takes place inside the school.”
Chambley said the word “lockdown” is an emergency term.
“We are super, super, super, hypersensitive about not using that word,” he said. “If we ever go into a lockdown, it’s not a drill. It’s not play. Something has happened that we know somebody is on campus with a gun, a knife. Somebody is trying to harm somebody, and we need everybody to go into survival mode.”
In a lockdown situation, Chambley said the entire campus is locked down, doors are locked and barricaded, and nobody is allowed into any room. The campus would then have to be cleared by police and school administrators.
Chambley said observing secure your area protocol allows a school to smoothly transition into lockdown should the need arise.
When a school follows heightened awareness protocol, faculty and staff are made to pay attention to an issue that might escalate. He said schools recently observed heightened awareness protocol in relation to the weather.