After a week of threats, extra police patrols, Facebook chatter about the end of the world and last week's tragic school shooting in Connecticut, the Minot Public School District has called off classes for today.
Supt. Mark Vollmer said a threat was called in Thursday morning to the Minot Air Force Base Head Start that a man planned to go there with a gun. The Head Start at MAFB, North Plains and Dakota Elementaries and Memorial Middle School at Minot Air Force Base were all placed on lockdown, meaning doors were locked and entry into the building was restricted. The Minot Head Start building was also briefly placed on lockdown.
Vollmer said the threat made at the base is under investigation by military police. Though the threat appears to be baseless, Vollmer said school officials decided to err on the side of caution and cancel all classes and activities that had been scheduled for Friday. The missed day will be made up on March 28. Some of the rumors were fueled by the story about a so-called Mayan prophecy predicting that the end of the world would be today, as well as the school shooting at Newtown, Conn.
Parent Angelina Crow said she had already been considering whether to send her children to school today and she is glad that Vollmer has called off classes.
"Anything to protect the children," said Crow, who has three children in Minot Public Schools, daughters ages 11 and 8 and a 6-year-old son. She said calling off school is justified "with everything happening, especially with the poor children that lost their lives in Connecticut." Even though law enforcement had a greater presence in the schools, Crow said she thinks many children would still have been terrified to go to school. Crow said she strongly empathizes with the parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
Crow also said she wishes that people making threats would keep their mouths shut.
MINOT AFB school received threat
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE - On Thursday morning, an unidentified woman called into the Head Start pre-school threatening to shoot the children, said Lt. Steve Whitesell of the Minot Police Department.
The school, located at 5 Summit Drive on Minot Air Force Base, immediately contacted the Minot Police Department and put the school into lock-down throughout the morning. Every school on the base was put on lock-down, but only the Head Start pre-school received a threat. The schools later lifted the lock-down order, determining around 12:30 p.m. that the threat was unfounded, according to the 5th Bomb Wing Public Information Office.
The threat came during a time when police have already been doing regular school walk-throughs, with at least six done Wednesday morning alone, in order to prevent youthful threats of violence to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar today.
Schools from coast to coast have received threats or warnings from students and others about potential acts of violence, Whitesell said. Although the threats are probably unfounded, police say they will continue to be extra vigilant and cautious to keep students and schools safe.