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UPDATE: Threat resolved at Walsenburg schools, classes to resume Tuesday

Boy sought as suspect surrenders

WALSENBURG, Colo. - UPDATE: Huerfano School District Superintendent Michael Moore said Monday afternoon that a middle school student turned himself in following "credible threats" that forced the cancellation of classes Monday.

Classes will resume on a normal schedule Tuesday.

Moore and Sheriff Bruce Newman confirmed that the boy, 13, surrendered at the Sheriff's Office shortly after 1 p.m. Monday.

"His parents are separated and they brought him in," Newman said.  "He'll be taken to a juvenile detention center in Pueblo.  He could be charged with a misdemeanor of disrupting school operations."

Moore said that before the boy surrendered, the district decided to close schools again on Tuesday.

"I can't in good conscience reopen the schools when the suspect in the threats is still being sought," he said.  "Safety is our number one concern."

Many people in Walsenburg said they know the boy and he has been in trouble at school before.

"He was suspended last spring for habitually disruptive actions," Moore said.  "The (latest) threats were directed more toward (Peakview) elementary school than (John Mall) high school (both are on the same campus).  We decided not to take any chances."

Holly Daniels, a parent with four kids in the schools, said she knows the student.

"I know he does talk a lot and is kind of a problem child," she said.  "But I do know of some other children who say they wouldn't take it lightly."

Moore said district administrators also saw a Facebook page in which the boy displayed numerous firearms on a table.

"It's the first time in my four years as superintendent that we've had to close school because of something like this," he said.

Newman declined an interview on the matter Monday, implying that he didn't want to blow the situation out of proportion.

"We're still investigating this," he said.  "We don't know if he actually made the threats himself (or in another manner).  The guns that people say they saw on the Facebook page were just a couple of pellet guns."

Newman also said he doesn't know why the boy would want to beat up other students or "shoot up" a school.

"Will he ever be allowed to come back here again?  I don't believe that young person will be back in the school system," Moore said.  "But a lot of that depends on what the sheriff's investigation finds out."

Parents said they're glad the district and authorities acted quickly.

"You never know what can happen," Daniels said.  "He should be punished for making threats of this magnitude.  If he did this, he affected everyone's lives.  Teachers and students couldn't come to school, parents had to find babysitters.  It's a big disruption."

Michael Smith and his son, Isaiah, just moved to Walsenburg from California and were surprised to see the schools closed.

"I was going to enroll my son in classes here," Smith said.  "I'm really surprised this is happening here.  I came here to get away from this kind of stuff in California."

Smith said he hopes the boy's punishment, if he's convicted, won't be too harsh.

"We need to find out why he made those threats," he said.  "We need to understand the reasons behind it."

After-school activities resumed at the school Monday.

Another district school, Gardner School, 30 miles away, remained open Monday but with increased security.

"We had them on lockout," Moore said.  "No one could get in or out."

According to our partners at the Pueblo Chieftain, five schools in the nearby La Veta Re-2 District also were on lockout Monday, with adults escorting students between buildings.

Le Veta officials did not return a call from KRDO NewsChannel 13 requesting more details.


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Huerfano County deputies are searching for a middle school student believed to be behind a threat that closed two schools in Walsenburg Monday.

Peakview School, grades K-8, and John Mall High School are on the same campus in Walsenburg.

Michael Moore, superintendent for Huerfano School District Re-1, said the threat started last Thursday and "could pose a safety risk." 

"It initially was a threat to come to the school to beat up a couple of students," said Moore.

Moore said the threat escalated through word of mouth.

"The comment made was to come to the school to shoot it up," Moore said.

The district sent out a phone call and text alert to parents warning that both schools are under a lock-out situation. Investigators confirm the student was expelled last spring for "disruptive behavior."

"It seemed very foolish to bring kids into school when there was a possible safety risk still out there," Moore said.

KRDO will bring you the latest updates.

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