SECURITY-WIDEFIELD, Colo. (KKTV) - A junior at Widefield High School is encouraging other students to speak up if they see something suspicious at school.
That's what Jae Whitfield did this week when she noticed a classmate writing a "school shooting plan" in his journal.
"I didn't think anything of it [at first] because a lot of kids these days joke about those kinds of things," Jae said. "I feel like joking is a way that a lot of kids cope with things."
But after talking with her mother and attending a mental health event called Healing Our Youth, Jae decided to report what she saw.
“A lady was talking about how you never really know what people are capable of until something happens,” Jae said.
She said she talked with her Spanish teacher and then told administrators on Wednesday morning.
“I feel good about my decision. I think a lot of other kids would be too afraid to say something because of any judgment or backlash that they would get,” Jae said. “At the end of the day, you’re doing something good.”
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday deputies had arrested the male student. He was booked into Spring Creek Youth Services Center and is facing a felony charge of inciting destruction of life or property.
Jae’s mother, Jamie Whitfield, said she’s proud of the decision her daughter made.
“I was also shocked because I didn’t think that she was actually getting the information. I didn’t think that she was taking it seriously,” Whitfield said. “That just goes to show us that even if our teenagers are on their phone, they're paying attention. So we shouldn’t stop the message.”
Jae and Jamie Whitfield were both at Widefield School District 3’s Community Day Saturday. There was a parade to celebrate the rivalry football game between Widefield and Mesa Ridge high schools.
Whitfield said it’s scary to know there was a credible threat at her daughter’s school, but she’s proud of how the school handled the situation.
“I am grateful that our community was able to come together and have a community celebration today and not mourn the loss of our students today,” Whitfield said.
Jae wants other students to feel comfortable reporting if they see something suspicious.
“I feel like schools should really take initiative in educating students on what they need to do in that type of situation,” she said. “Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of support, which I do appreciate, but I feel like kids should ... feel more obligated to speak up when they see something.”
Students can anonymously report anything that concerns them on the Safe2Tell app or by calling 1-877-542-7233.