Widefield student arrested for allegedly making a school threat

WIDEFIELD, Colo. (KKTV) - 11 News has learned a Widefield High School student was arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office on Monday for a credible school threat.

The student is facing charges of inciting destruction of life or property, a class 6 felony. The threat was allegedly made verbally to a student and then made schoolwide last Wednesday. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office wasn't able to deem the threat credible until Monday. The student had access to weapons and won't be publicly identified at this time because of the student's age. The student was taken to the Spring Creek Juvenile Detention Center.

The issue of school threats, or alleged school threats, isn't just confined to Widefield. Two students were arrested last week in Peyton for allegedly making similar threats.

"We are seeing such a drastic increase in school threats," El Paso County Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Jackie Kirby told 11 News. "We are just trying to game plan how we are going to move forward because this is a very rampant problem and based on what happened nationally we need to make sure we have a handle on this."

Kirby says there is a hope to have a large town hall meeting with community members from multiple school districts in the near future.

"We’ve got to bring the community and schools together with a panel of experts and get some answers, so hopefully we can again see a downturn," said Kirby in response to the high number of alleged threats. "All we can do is educate the parents, educate the students, and again bring in players who will have a say in every part of the process if a student is indeed charged,"

The following letter was sent to parents Monday night:
Dear WSD3 Parents,

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest today off of school grounds which the district found out about late this afternoon. We were informed that a threat made last week at Widefield High School was deemed credible by the sheriff’s office which lead to the student arrest today.

As a school district, we do not determine if a threat is credible, that is the role of law enforcement. Our job is to believe there is reasonable concern and take appropriate action to protect the safety of all staff and students. Last week was no different. When we became aware of a possible threat, we investigated and took appropriate disciplinary steps, and then turned the incident over to the sheriff’s office.

We understand parent concerns regarding safety, and we consistently implement due diligence to protect our students and staff while supporting the efforts of law enforcement.

It is not our practice to get ahead of law enforcement investigations as we do not have to demonstrate the same burden of proof, nor do we determine the credibility of statements made by students.

We appreciate and support our relationship with local law enforcement in helping us keep our community safe.

Thank you.