Tacoma police respond to shooting threat at Stadium High School

Race apparently was behind a shooting threat that brought police to Stadium High School on Wednesday and led to the arrest of three students, Tacoma police said.

A 16-year-old student was arrested off campus and accused of threatening to bring a firearm to school and of making a racially motivated threat against another student, police spokeswoman Gretchen Aguirre said.

One of the students is Hispanic and the other black, Aguirre said. She declined to say which student was arrested, saying police didn’t want to inflame the situation by sparking retaliation.

No shooting happened and no gun was found at the school, she said.

Two other students, ages 16 and 17, were arrested on charges of misdemeanor possession of weapons. One had a small pocketknife; the other had a metal bar from a dumbbell, Aguirre said. One teen was arrested on campus; the other was arrested approaching campus.

Police said the threats were made via a text message that several students showed to their parents Tuesday night. The exact wording of the message wasn’t available, Aquirre said.

Worried parents called 911 and nearly two dozen police officers showed up at the high school at 6 a.m. Wednesday to keep tabs on the situation. To be safe, Aguirre said, police will be at the school again today.

“We want parents to feel safe sending their kids to school,” she said. “We have the key person in this incident.”

There was no trouble at the school, but several officers stayed throughout the day and more returned when school let out and remained near the school and Wright Park for several hours.

Police were trying to figure out what led to the text message and how serious the threats were.

The threats were connected to a report Tuesday of a group of students heading toward Wright Park for a confrontation of some kind, Aguirre said.

Police came and the students moved along without fighting, first to a spot near Tacoma General Hospital and later to a residential area by Seventh and Eighth streets and Sheridan Avenue.

Stadium Principal Gail Barnum sent a recorded message about the situation to parents.

Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said that although school officials did not know for sure Wednesday morning if the threats were serious, they decided to act as if they were. “It’s the first time we have had a viral rumor spread like this one,” he said.

Staff writer Debbie Cafazzo contributed to this report.