By Sara Tischauser
The Seymour Community School District and area law enforcement officers worked together to investigate a possible threat to the Seymour High School.
On Friday, Nov. 30 the Seymour Police Department was notified by Pulaski School Resource Officer Adam Winkler about a possible problem, Seymour Police Chief Rick Buntrock said. Buntrock said Winkler was notified by a Pulaski student about a threat being made on Snapchat.
Buntrock said the threat contained a picture of what appeared to be an assault rifle. The threat was to the Seymour High School and was to take place on Monday.
Laurie Asher, Seymour Community School District superintendent, said the Seymour School Liaison Officer T.J. Hilgenberg notified the school of the situation Friday night.
“Seymour Police Department along with other local law enforcement continued investigation throughout weekend and kept school informed,” Asher said.
Buntrock said the Seymour Police Department worked in conjunction with the Outagamie County Sheriff’s office on the case. River J. Erdmann, 17, Appleton, was booked into the Outagamie County Jail on a felony charge of terrorist threats and a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct related to the threat. Buntrock said another juvenile was referred to juvenile intake for his/her participation on social media.
Asher said Erdmann is a former student at Seymour who had withdrawn from the school in November and was being home schooled.
In addition, Seymour Police Officer Isaac Schultz said that after looking through the posts on Snapchat they found posts from a juvenile in Pennsylvania and contacted the Reading Police Department in Pennsylvania to make them aware of the situation so that police department could investigate the incident and make sure there was no threat to students there.
“It’s amazing when you get on social media how far some of these can reach,” Schultz said about the Snapchat that was sent and reached people in Pennsylvania.
Buntrock said investigating this incident required a lot of time and resources to make sure the students would be safe.
“At least 80 man hours were put in over the weekend from Pulaski Police Department, Seymour Police Department, Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office and another jurisdiction,” Buntrock said.
Asher said the Seymour High School administration, Seymour Middle School administration and Seymour School District administration met Sunday night and discussed how they needed to follow up and what they needed to do. She said about 11 a.m. on Sunday they sent an “alert now” message to all of the Seymour Middle School and High School parents and posted a notice on Facebook about the situation.
Asher said law enforcement deemed that this was not a credible threat and the students would be safe to go to school on Monday.
On Monday morning, Asher said each morning class was informed of the incident and what was going on. Additional counselling services were offered to any student who wanted to talk about the incident further.
Having a relationship with the police department Asher said is very important for the safety of students and staff at the school.
“We have a really good working relationship with the Seymour Police Department,” Asher said. “The biggest thing is to just say thank you to Seymour Police Department and all law enforcement that helped make sure all our students were safe Monday morning.”
Buntrock said this issue really brings awareness for the need for people to say something if they see a threat on social media. He said if the Pulaski student hadn’t brought this forward, the incident may not have come to the police department’s attention until much later.
“If a child or adult sees something, they should say something,” Buntrock said.
Schultz said this can serve as an example of why students need to be monitored with what they are doing.
“It’s just another really good example why parents should be checking their child’s social media and cellphones,” Schultz said. “Good lesson for parents to be involved with social media sites.”
Buntrock also reiterated that if anyone sees anything that can be construed as a threat, the person should not become involved and should contact law enforcement immediately.
Asher agreed these threats are taken seriously and anyone who sees a threat should contact the school or law enforcement right away.