A rumor that there might be shooting at “the high school” spread through two towns Monday afternoon. While students at Great Bend and Larned weren’t sure what was going on, law enforcement officers were checking out the same information. Then students with smartphones quickly spread the word through social networks – adding a fair share of speculation. Students said it started with something posted on Facebook.
A GBHS student said students were “freaking out,” not sure if what they were hearing was serious or a joke. Either way, messages exchanged between friends indicated students wanted to know what was going on and hoped someone was taking it seriously.
“We’ve heard a little bit about it,” Officer Jefferson Davis at the Great Bend Police Department said around 2:30 p.m. Davis is also the school liaison officer to Great Bend USD 428. “There were statements relayed in Barton and Pawnee County. Based on our investigation, we’ve determined there is no danger to our community or our schools.”
Fort Larned USD 495 Superintendent Jon Flint confirmed Monday that a “situation” arose last week that raised concerns about a Larned High School student. Larned police, Pawnee County sheriff deputies and school officials were involved in a meeting Monday on the same issue.
“We had a great meeting with the individual involved and came to a very good resolution,” he said, without going into detail. “There are things we can share and there are things we cannot share.”
In Larned, as in Great Bend, some information became known through social networking, he said. “There has been a lot of Facebook activity.”
Flint and Davis both stressed that authorities take all concerns seriously, and perhaps especially so following last Friday’s killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We want to take everything very seriously to insure the safety of our community and our students,” Davis said. “In light of current events, we’ve become more cautious and more aware of potential warning signs.”
Flint said considering the current environment, every situation is treated seriously. He said high school officials were proactive.
“There was constant conversation since last week and our high school administration did an excellent job,” he said.
Flint encourages anyone with concern about a student or potential situation to contact school officials directly with the information.
The LHS Facebook page was updated around 3:30 p.m. Monday with a photo of Principal Troy Langdon speaking to a group in the gym. The caption to the photo said, “Mr. Langdon addresses the entire student body and faculty with candor and facts and encourages everyone to dismiss heresay (sic).”
Davis said the investigations at the two schools “were linked and tied to the same sources.” He said Monday’s investigation, which was assisted by the Kansas Highway Patrol, focused on making sure no one was in danger. “As of now no charges have been filed.”