A student detained at Yelm High School, prompting a lockdown on Wednesday, had previously posted a photo on social media holding what appeared to be a pistol, according to an investigation by Yelm Police.
Then, before school that day, the student got into an argument with another student.
“Witnesses believed they overheard one of the students in the argument mention a firearm and reported this to school officials,” Sgt. Adam Wood wrote in a news release.
Yelm Police were dispatched to the school at 8:31 a.m. for a report of a student who may be in possession of a handgun. The school went into a 75-minute lockdown.
According to the news release:
The student was interviewed by officers and admitted to posting a picture while holding a BB gun, but denied ever bringing it to school. Law enforcement officers visited the student’s home and confirmed the presence of the BB gun.
The teen received an emergency expulsion from the school; the student’s parents are cooperating in the investigation.
At no time was there a weapon on campus, or a threat made against the school, students or staff, principal Ryan Akiyama wrote in a letter that was sent home to parents.
“The lockdown was initiated due to second-hand rumors that YHS students heard about a fellow student,” Akiyama wrote. “Our students did the correct thing in reporting to the main office. Ultimately, these rumors were based on one student’s irresponsible social media in the recent past combined with that student’s inappropriate actions and statements connected to a social dispute.”
During and after the lockdown there were “inaccurate and irresponsible” posts on social media that Yelm Police and school administrators are investigating, Akiyama wrote.
“Each post has been investigated and debunked as inaccurate and false rumor with no basis in reality,” he wrote. “These social media posts create needless fear for YHS students and community and waste valuable law enforcement time as each report is investigated thoroughly.”
Akiyama wrote that the lockdown event was traumatic, and the school district is offering counseling to students who were upset by the day’s events. Some students tried to organize a walkout after the situation. Instead, Akiyama and the ASB president did a joint announcement urging students to instead work together toward creating a safer school. The walkout didn’t happen, said district spokeswoman Teri Pablo.
Yelm superintendent Brian Wharton said called the response to the entire situation “impressive.”
“From my perspective I am incredibly proud of Yelm High School — students, staff and families,” he told The Olympian. “They really made a strong statement about how we handle these types of situations. A few students made some incredibly poor choices with their words and reactions, and those choices impacted an entire school community. The response was impressive, including engaging student voice and getting parents the communications they need in emergency settings.”