Schools in 'heightened sense of awareness'

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Staff Report
Local schools tightened security and some parents took their children out of classes Wednesday after authorities got word of a potential threat involving a local man.
But the Salisbury Police Department found no reason to charge or keep the man in custody after interviewing him, Police Chief Rory Collins said.
Police obtained a judicial order to take the 26-year-old man into custody for a psychological evaluation after being told he’d made a threat to carry out a shooting “targeting a venue where there could be lots of citizens,”?Collins said.
Police began looking for the man and sent notice to schools and local businesses to be on watch for him.
Police interviewed the man Wednesday and said he “was not found to be in need of further evaluation”?and there was not sufficient evidence to bring charges, Collins said.
According to WBTV, the man told investigators that an ex-girlfriend provided the information about the potential threat and that it was not accurate.
The man was released from police custody.
By that time, word of the potential threat had spread around the county. A number of people contacted the Post after hearing various, unverified versions of the story, including from another media outlet.
Rowan-Salisbury School System spokeswoman Rita Foil said the system was operating under a “heightened sense of awareness” after Collins contacted officials about the man.
“He has not made any specific threats toward a school or anything related to the schools,” Collins said in an email to Walter Hart, the district’s assistant superintendent of adminstration. “Based upon some of his threatening comments regarding public venues, however, I felt it best to err on the side of caution by letting you know.”
Hart forwarded Collins’ email, which included a description and picture of the man, to staff at every school in the county.
“Chief Collins asked that you contact 911 and go into lockdown if this person were to come on your campus,” Hart said in the email.
Foil said no schools went into lockdown mode. But schools were locking all exterior doors in order to monitor traffic through the front door.
“We are following the lead from law enforcement,” Foil said.
Foil said individual police departments such as China Grove have been working with the schools to ensure they are ready in case of an emergency.
She said some concerned parents picked their children up from school early.
“We are very much aware of this. We’ve got pictures and we know to call 911 if anything would happen,” Foil said.