Benson district on high alert: Students threaten violence at school on Friday
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- If it was a joke -- it's a really, really bad one. Benson police and the school district found out Wednesday that some students had talked about doing something violent at the school -- on Friday.
They know who the kids are, but they've increased security, just in case. Parents know little about the details. Those we spoke to agree -- it can be a difficult balance between the schools, police and parents.
Ed Wagner pointed to his grandson's classroom, which is clearly visible from the main road -- and he's worried. "It wouldn't be the first time that someone's going to do a copycat killing."
Knowing parents have been on edge since the Connecticut shooting, the district's superintendent, Dr. David Woodall, said he didn't waste any time getting word out to the families. "We sent out an automated message describing the situation that had taken place."
The message said that some students threatened to do something violent on Friday.
"My heart dropped. My heart dropped," said Wagner
The phone message -- and a letter sent later that day -- assured parents that the Benson police investigated the threat. "At this point we don't think that it's credible, but again we can't just ignore them. We will take appropriate action as far as trying to secure the schools," said Police Chief, Paul Moncada.
There are 1,200 students in the Benson district and all the campuses are together. But the threat did not specify which campus would be targeted.
So police officers are covering all the campuses -- through Friday -- and the district is also beefing up security. "Probably the most important we do is ask all of our teachers to keep their doors locked at all times and safeguard kids in that manner," said Dr. Woodall.
The superintendent and police chief are not releasing any more specifics about the threat, "because too much information could jeopardize the ongoing investigation," said Moncada.
Which Wagner said he's understands, but it doesn't help calm his fears. "Sometimes it's frustrating when you don't have all the information."
He considered not sending his grandchildren to school on Friday -- a day christmas parties are planned in the classrooms -- but he decided differently. " Just like after 9/11 we're Americans we're not going to run and hide. I'm just going to be concerned and more watchful."
The superintendent says that there was 95 percent attendence on Thursday.
The superintedent says students really have to watch what they say or pay serious consequences.
We can compare this to the security shift in airports -- when they started escorting people out --- who even joked about carrying a bomb or a weapon.
KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos asked the police chief if there will likely be any arrests after his investigation -- and he answered, "Yes."