Potential school shooting threat puts Kirksville area schools on high alert

Police are investigating a potential school shooting threat in northeast Missouri.

According to a Facebook post by the Kirksville School District Thursday morning, authorities are looking into a post on social media from Wednesday night that warned “not to come to school today because someone is bringing a gun.”

Investigators could not be sure the post referred to Kirksville schools specifically, but narrowed it down to roughly the Adair County area.

Kirksville Superintendent Dr. Damon Kizzire told KTVO that he was contacted around 10 p.m. Wednesday by authorities, saying that they had received an anonymous tip about the post.

Kizzire said the post read “don’t come to school tomorrow because” followed by an emoji of a gun.

Uniformed police presence has been increased at Kirksville schools, and students at William Matthew Middle School were subjected to backpack searches before entering the building. Other than that, Kizzire said, it’s business as usual.

William Matthew Middle School Principal Dr. Michael Mitchell told KTVO that the backpack search was not related to a specific threat to that school. He said that the school performs at least one such drill per year, usually in conjunction with the bus company. Because of the potential threat, Mitchell said he decided to perform the drill Thursday. No weapons of any kind were found in the search, though some tobacco was confiscated.

Kizzire said that ultimately parents were notified via Facebook to balance the need to keep parents informed with the danger of providing incomplete information that might do more harm than good.

"I don't feel comfortable just sending out an alert that says 'possible gun threat at school.' We don't want to cause mass hysteria," Kizzire explained.

Investigators are taking the threat seriously, but have yet to find any credence behind it.

"If there were a credible threat, we would have, at the absolute very least, locked down the school," Kizzire said. "Safety and security is our number one priority."

Adair County R-1 Superintendent Rick Roberts and Adair County R-II Superintendent Sally Shipman both said they were aware of the issue and that they are confident in their schools' existing security measures.

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