EASTON — Sts. Peter & Paul Elementary and High schools were closed Monday, March 10, in response to a school shooting threat posted online.
A police investigation determined an 18-year-old man in the Midwest posted the threat, Easton Police said. Officers there determined he had no access to weapons; the man said it was a joke and apologized.
“Sadly, we had to experience a situation like this today at SSPP,” Dr. Faye Schilling and James Nemeth wrote in a joint e-mail. “However, this event allowed us to utilize and practice elements of our crisis response and management plan and to work with local law enforcement in helping to ensure the safety of our students and community....”
Nemeth is principal of Sts. Peter & Paul High School; Schilling is principal of the elementary school.
The Easton Police Department was informed March 10 of the threat.
According to police, in the threat, the school shooting was to occur at Sts. Peter and Paul High School on March 11, police said. In the posting, it made reference to Nick Cruz, the shooter in Parkland, Fla., and using an AR-15. Investigators with EPD were called in to investigate who posted the message and assess if the threat was legitimate.
After an extensive investigation, investigators learned the identity of the suspect, police said. A law enforcement agency in the suspect’s Midwest state was contacted to assist in the investigation. Officers were sent to the suspect’s home and contact was made.
The individual was identified as an 18-year-old man. Officers conducted a search of the man’s home and found he had no access to weapons, Easton Police said. The man also admitted to posting the threat and informed officers it was a joke. The suspect was apologetic and officers cleared the home without incident.
Officers of the Easton Police Department, with the assistance of the Maryland State Police and Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office explosives detection K-9s, scanned the schools Monday for any firearms or explosives. Nothing was found.
Officers also conducted an internal and external security sweep of the campus, after which EPD declared an all-clear.
Students will return to school Tuesday, March 12, officials said in the email.
“We will be discussing the matter with our students and staff in an age-appropriate manner and setting,” the principals wrote. “We have designated one of our emergency drills this semester to practice a campus-wide lock-down for an intruder/active shooter.”
The principals also encouraged parents to talk to their children about such situations, learn about the warning signs, stress that students’ safety is the school’s priority, refrain from speculation and rumor and to pray for young people’s health and courage to say and do the right things.