Sheriff's office sends deputies to Latta Schools as precaution Friday

The exterior of Latta Elementary School is shown Friday. In light of a bomb threat to Latta Public Schools, the Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Office sent three deputies to the campus Friday as a safety measure.

A bomb threat at Latta Public Schools prompted the Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Office to send deputies to the campus Friday as a safety measure.

School district officials learned about the bomb threat shortly after the school day ended Thursday when a parent reported the threat to a school principal, Superintendent Cliff Johnson said Friday. The parent said her child had been told about another student who had threatened to bomb the school.

Johnson said the student who told a parent about the threat had overheard it during a conversation among students earlier that day. He added that the threat was extremely vague and may have been made in jest.

School district officials notified the sheriff’s office, which contacted the student who may have made the threat, Johnson said. He said sheriff’s deputies also spoke with the student’s family.

“Because of the young age of the student who may have made this threat, we believe that the likelihood of this threat being carried out to be extremely low,” Johnson said in a statement, which was posted on the district’s website and its Facebook page. “However, in order to maintain a safe environment for all and to keep our parents, staff and community informed, we were compelled to notify all who may be concerned.”

He told The Ada News the district is not releasing any information that might identify the student who made the threat, and he did not know what the student’s motive might have been.

Johnson said school continued as usual Friday since there was little chance that the threat would be carried out. As a precaution, the sheriff’s office sent three deputies to the campus to help the district’s school resource officer maintain a safe environment.

Pontotoc County Sheriff John Christian said Friday by phone that he was not concerned about the statements made, and that he does not consider the inquiry deputies conducted to be an “investigation.”

“We had a grade-schooler that was playing with some other kids say something to the effect of, ‘At the end of the year, I’m going to blow up the school,’” Christian said. “The kids went home and told their parents, and their parents called the school.”

Christian said that phone call triggered an automatic duty to report the perceived threat to law enforcement, which he said schools officials did promptly.

“This is a very young (child) who we believe poses no real threat and has no means of carrying out the threat,” he said.

Christian said Latta’s school resource officer will remain vigilant, as always, but at this time, the sheriff’s office does not expect to take any further action on the matter.

“This is something Latta schools will handle internally,” the sheriff said.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.

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Carl Lewis is the editor of The Ada News. He's an aspiring photographer, an unabashed fan of Apple products and an avid coffee swiller. Contact Carl at (580) 310-7520, or by email at clewis@theadanews.com.