Soft Lockdown and Bomb Threat at DHS Brings Up Questions About School Security

Grant Whitley and Justice Nessman

At 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, Decatur High School(DHS) staff and administration were notified that there was a possible weapon on campus and a soft lockdown was initiated. 

This problem emerged after a student from outside City Schools of Decatur was let into the building through a side door. “The safety issue is when we don’t know they’re here. So just like any visitor in the building, they have to come through the attendance office and sign in,” Lofstrand said.

“[Students] overheard ‘backpack and weapon’, and it was immediately reported to one of the assistant principals. And so in the process of the investigation, it was determined that one of the students did not go here,” DHS Principal Rochelle Lofstrand said.

Lofstrand continued by saying that this lockdown was out of  “an abundance of caution” in an effort to ensure everyone’s safety. This lockdown was lifted at 1:20 p.m. after no weapon was found and the intruder was dealt with by the administration and the school resource officer.

At the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, DHS revised its policy about students entering the building. Now, students always need to enter through the front desk doors and side doors are only to be used during transition periods. 

“We’re really trying to make sure that nobody opens the door because it puts all of us in danger,” Lofstrand stated, “I think it’s important that everyone knows that I take this very seriously. I also work in conjunction with our director of safety and security, our school resource officer, and our police department. I have all of them on speed dial so that I have experts that I am working with to make decisions.”

On Oct. 9 a post started circulating with a bomb threat against DHS. The post originated from an account named @ihatedhs on Instagram. The account has since been removed from Instagram. 

The anonymous Instagram page posted a blank image saying, “Hello my name is Jake and I will be going to DHS tomorrow morning and will be placing a bomb in the school at 8:50 a.m.,” followed by a location tag for DHS. A screenshot of the post began circulating on Snapchat and Instagram throughout the day, raising worries from the student body.

At 6:32 p.m. on Oct. 9, Lofstrand sent an email saying, “Earlier today, the Decatur High School administration was notified of a bomb threat circulating on social media. All threats are taken seriously, and the Decatur Police Department was notified immediately of the situation.” She then urged parents to talk with their children about how to report threats of this kind. 

“Students also need to be aware that law enforcement agencies take these threats very seriously and could pursue prosecution even when such incidents are false or intended as pranks,” Lofstrand said. 

When sent a google form by the DHS administration, many DHS students responded by saying the threats made them uncomfortable. 

“[Administration] should assess the situation and if it’s really dangerous. If it threatens the lives of students and employees then they should shut down school for that day,” DHS Junior Spencer Beveridge said.

“They were obviously fake, but the fact that anyone would make such threats is very disturbing,” Freshman Maeve Downey said. 

Many DHS students still came to school, and there is no evidence that these threats were met with any follow-through by the perpetrator.

“Parents need to talk to students about things like not letting people in, and reporting things if you hear something. So together, we can work to make this campus as safe as possible.” Lofstrand said.