Attack threat triggers evacuation of Central High School

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KJCT) -- About 1,400 students were evacuated from Central High School Tuesday after 9-1-1 received a call threatening the school, according the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

Photo: David Jones

Law enforcement officials said the call came into 9-1-1 shortly before 10 a.m. from a male subject who claimed to be hiding in the school with weapons.

A student at Central, Nathan Allen, was on his way back from the career center when law enforcement started arriving. Allen explains his concerns as he tried to communicate with his classmates inside.

"I'm pretty scared because I don't what's going on," said Nathan Allen. "If I was inside I'd be more scared, I'm glad I m not there at this time. I’m nervous for all the kids that are inside."

Parents were also gathering out side the school frantically checking their phones for any sign there kids were OK.

"It’s scary when your daughters telling you that she’s scared," said a parent of a student inside.

After a thorough search of the school, the sheriff’s office and the Grand Junction Police Department, along with the FBI, determined that the threat was not real.

“We are confident there is not a credible threat to any of our local schools today or in the near future,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

Deputies said there are indications the call was not made locally and the investigation into the caller’s identity is ongoing.

The school was put on lockdown while MCSO, GJPD and the Colorado State Patrol responded. Other schools in the area, including Grand Mesa Middle School, Grand Junction High School, and Palisade High School were put in shelter-in-place out of caution.

Law enforcement methodically checked the school for threats and found none. At that point, deputies and officers evacuated all of the students and staff to Palisade High School for reunification with parents.

Once the school was clear, the Grand Junction Police Department Bomb Squad swept the school and did not find anything suspicious.

The sheriff’s office said any threat to student safety is taken seriously and is thoroughly investigated. In the press release, the sheriff’s office stated:

In response to questions about why we evacuated the school despite the fact the threats to student safety were not substantiated: student and staff safety is always the top priority. Threats are taken seriously, and are thoroughly investigated. Although this process is lengthy and labor intensive, we cannot take any chances where threats to the safety of our schools is concerned.

Officials said cars left in the parking lot can be picked up now, but belongings left inside the building (including car keys) cannot be picked up until Wednesday.

Check back for more information about the investigation as it becomes available.

Photo: David Jones

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