Principal: Threat to Carmel High School 'just a rumor'

Chaos at Carmel High School
Carmel school security scare
Panic at Camel High School
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CARMEL, Ind. (WTHR) - Carmel High School’s principal is reassuring parents there is no safety threat to students at the school.

Social media rumors plus some incidents at school in the last week led to some tense moments on campus Thursday.

That tension Thursday led to the creation of an online petition, seeking to cancel Friday classes. It had received over 3,000 signatures, but it’s not clear how many of those signatures of from students.

What exactly happened at the school Thursday, one day after a mass shooting at a Florida high school?

Video posted on social media shows school staff restraining a student with special needs, a student who allegedly attacked a staffer. It happened Thursday in the Carmel cafeteria.

In the confusion, someone yelled “it’s happening.” With that, students started running from the building. There’s social media postings showing students running through the corridor. Some parents came to the school to get them.

Parent Sheryl Foote told Eyewitness News she came to school “for his safety. I feel that things are out of control. Better safe than sorry.“

“Part of the issue is the kids are just like being kids and yelling and stuff. Everyone is so freaked out. Tensions are really crazy,“ said Ryan Bilek, a senior

Bilek said that “makes school like a lot less enjoyable. I can’t focus on learning."

On top of all that, a student was also found in possession of a knife on campus Thursday and taken into custody.

And one week ago, police detained a male student who allegedly "accosted" a girl with a knife in a school bathroom.

No one was hurt in either incident.

Carmel principal Dr. Tom Harmas released a video telling parents and students “to be clear, a threat was never made.”

Dr. Harmas quashed rumors of threats posted on social media. He warned students “social media, when it is used incorrectly, can be damaging to people.”

“You know what, my kids wanted to stay home tomorrow. I think all the kids are doing it. But I think the high school definitely has it under control. The police department and everybody involved, they would not be having the school open if there was any safety concerns,” one parent told us at the school on Thursday night.

“We just pray. And the kids are not scared to go to school because they feel that they are protected. Have a lot of security there. So they feel fine with that,” said parent Jackie Hardin.

The high school is opening on schedule Friday morning.

The district had already scheduled Monday off for Presidents’ Day.

EARLIER STORY:

The school already on edge, but a series of incidents Thursday at Carmel High School caused panic in the hallways.

School officials say a special-needs student got into an altercation and had to be physically restrained during a lunch period.

The incident caused a frenzy in the cafeteria that spread throughout the campus. Students started running off school grounds.

Someone yelled 'it’s happening' and then hundreds of kids just started pouring out of the cafeteria,” said senior Ryan Bilek.

Many students said they were already nervous on campus after threats of violence at the school were posted on social media.

A number of parents kept their kids home Thursday. After the cafeteria incident, more parents showed up to pull their children out of school.

“For his safety and I feel that things are out of control,” said Sheryl Fiore picking up her son. “Better safe than sorry.”

School officials said another student was also taken into custody after a knife was found in his possession in a separate incident.

“While we know parent and student anxiety is high, we assure you we work closely with the Carmel Police Department, as well as our first responders at a county and state level to ensure the safety of all those on our campuses and in our buildings. We continue to make the safety of our students, employees and visitors a top priority,” said school principal Tom Harmas in a statement.

Harmas outline a list of things that have happened at the school recently, including a young boy accosting a girl with a knife in a bathroom last week and a pair of fights on Tuesday that Dr. Harmas says lasted a combined 3.5 seconds before teachers stepped in.

He said the threats of a shooting on Friday weren't actually threats, just a rumor taken out of context from a group text among students.

"To paraphrase, they were talking about the past two weeks' events and then a student wrote that he didn't want something like a school shooting to happen," Dr. Harmas said in his letter. "Another wrote to a friend that a dangerous time would be when all the students are in a convocation. Then others chimed in saying, 'Let's talk about good things,' and they began to write about puppies."

He said the rumor mill then started churning that there was going to be a shooting during a convocation on Friday, despite the fact that there is no convocation scheduled for Friday.

Parents reported to administrators that they'd seen video of a Carmel High School student showing off ammo magazines. Harmas said they, along with Carmel Police, investigated the video and decided it posed no security threat to staff or students.

"We appreciate students, staff, parents and the community's willingness to report events," he said. "We believe in 'See Something, Say Something.' Because of this, we have been able to investigate each event, even before most of you knew what was happening. Social media, when used incorrectly, can be damaging to people. Always remember to use this only in a responsible manner."

His entire letter can be read below:

Good morning everyone. I know the events of the last few weeks have put some of us on edge and to help all of us I wanted to tell you the facts instead of you reading rumors on social media.

So, let’s look at some of the things that have occurred.

  1. A young boy accosted a girl with a paring knife in a bathroom.This has been dealt with by the school and Carmel Police Department in an appropriate manner. There were no injuries and the student and was apprehended within minutes. As a matter of fact, the young lady has not missed a day of school.
  2. There were 2 altercations on Tuesday.The first lasted literally 2 seconds and the second lasted 1.5 seconds before staff members stepped in.So this was a total of 2 altercations lasting a combined 3.5 seconds.Again, the school and Carmel Police Department dealt with these issues appropriately.
  3. Yesterday, we were made aware by students of a rumor of a possible school shooting.This rumor started due to a text strand between a group of students.To paraphrase, they were talking about the past two weeks’ events and then a student wrote that he didn’t want something like a school shooting to happen.Another wrote to a friend that a dangerous time would be when all the students are in a convocation.Then others chimed in saying “let’s talk about good things” and they began to write about puppies.
  4. From there the rumor mill went to “there is going to be a school shooting at Friday’s convocation.” To be clear, a threat was never made. Ladies and gentlemen, there is not a convocation on Friday and there has never been a convocation scheduled on Friday.NEVER.
  5. Some of you have shared with us or have seen a video of one of our students showing off ammo magazines.This has been investigated by the school administration and Carmel Police Department and has been deemed no threat to our staff or students.

We appreciate students, staff, parents and the community's willingness to report events. We believe in “See Something, Say Something.” Because of this, we have been able to investigate each event, even before most of you knew what was happening. Social media, when used incorrectly, can be damaging to people. Always remember to use this only in a responsible manner.

We have been working closely with Carmel Police Department to ensure the safety of everyone in this building.

We are a Greyhound family and we have always taken care of one another and we always will.

Now everyone take a second to breathe. We are all OK and looking out for one another. We will move forward. That is what makes Carmel High School a special place for everyone.

Thank you!
Dr. Tom Harmas, Principal

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