Student questioned after threat forces school lockdown

Amy Neff Roth

Police are questioning a 15-year-old student after threats Tuesday afternoon resulted in the lockdown of Gregory B. Jarvis Junior-Senior High School and the Perry M. Fisher elementary school in Mohawk.

The male student, who police were not identifying as of 5 p.m., got into an argument with two other male students shortly after 2 p.m. before making a threat and leaving the school, police Chief Joseph Malone said.

Police would not describe the threat but said they went to the teen's mother's house and confiscated a gun, police said.

Capt. Scott Scherer of the Village of Herkimer Police Department said that while they originally believed there was a gun at the school, they now believe that is not the case.

Scherer said no one was hurt and no one was in immediate danger. 

Mohawk Central School District Superintendent Joyce Caputo said the district followed its pre-existing emergency plan after learning of the threat.

“All of the safety plan as practiced and discussed with faculty and staff was followed in its entirety,” Caputo said.

The schools entered a lockdown at 2:15 p.m. at the recommendation of the Mohawk Village Police Department, Caputo said.

“We follow safety procedures,” Caputo said of what happens during a lockdown situation. “Students are required to stay in their classrooms with the teachers and no one is in the hall or allowed to leave or enter the school building.”

Procedures for dismissing students after the lockdown lifted around 4 p.m. were determined by the police, but the district did communicate with parents about the situation. 

All students at the junior-senior high school and the elementary school were allowed to leave their respective schools by 4:15 p.m. 

“We notified parents as they called the school and we also have made phone calls since that time,” Caputo said.

“Our parents want to know that their children are safe at all times and we appreciate that cooperation,” she said. 

The Mohawk Central School District Board of Education will likely examine the effectiveness of the district’s safety plan in dealing with Tuesday’s threat, school board President John Pickett said.

Pickett said he was notified by the superintendent of the threat made by a student Tuesday and that he believed protocol was followed in handling the situation.

“I think the superintendent acted right in protecting the safety of our students,” he said.

Lockdowns have been held at the school before for various reasons including practice, Pickett said, but Tuesday’s event was still unexpected.

“You never think it’ll happen in a rural community, but I think the way the world is today, anything is possible,” Pickett said.