Valley schools were “secured” Thursday afternoon after an unspecified threat against them by a Jackson man with a criminal record.
The man was taken into custody at his home in Jackson and taken to St. John’s Medical Center on a mental hold.
“We never told the schools to lock down,” Jackson police Lt. Cole Nethercott said. “There were never any kids in danger.
“We gave them [the schools] a notice that we’d had a nonspecific threat that was 24 hours old and third-hand,” Nethercott said.
Early Thursday afternoon police were notified that a person threatened schools in a text to someone Wednesday night. Another person called the cops.
Nethercott said police became involved when asked to do a welfare check on a person who “has had chemical dependency issues and possible mental issues” who “we’ve had contact with before.”
“Best we know, he didn’t have access to weapons,” Nethercott said.
School district spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said the district decided to “secure the schools” in response to the threat.
“We take any threat to the schools seriously,” Nethercott said.
Parents were not immediately notified of the action because, as Reynolds said, “there was no actual threat to the students in the schools” and it was “not a situation where there was any danger or action required.”
She said securing the buildings came from “an abundance of caution.”
“Had it been deemed necessary, if we had determined it was a real concern, we would’ve taken the step of notifying parents of any concern,” Reynolds said.
Wilson Elementary School Principal Kathy Milburn said she brought kids inside from recess and locked the school’s outside doors.
“As an additional precaution, we also did an in-school lock down with the classroom doors locked,” Milburn said. “It was probably overkill.”
Gillian Chapman, Teton County School District superintendent, notified the Jackson Hole Community School of the situation around 2 p.m. The Community School went into “lock out,” which means they locked all doors and didn’t allow anyone to enter the building. Parents were notified by Head of School Amy Fulwyler at 4 p.m.
In her email to parents, Fulwyler asked families to “please understand that in situations like these there may be a delay in getting information out to you as we work to determine the facts and true nature of the situation.”
Jackson Hole Classical Academy was notified by police around 3 p.m. The school then notified parents.
Teton County School District notified parents at 4:31 p.m. with an email and a text message alert saying that the district “secured our schools, increased supervision and followed appropriate protocols due to a notice from local enforcement” about a “nondescript threat toward ‘Jackson schools.’ ”
The email also stated that district staff and teachers “took appropriate actions to ensure student safety without unnecessarily worrying students.”
Some parents wondered why they weren’t notified sooner.
“I’d like to know what’s going on,” Saxon Curpier, mother of two sons at Jackson Elementary and Colter Elementary, said while waiting for her childrens’ school bus. “I’d like to be alerted if there is a delay.”
In her email to parents, Reynolds said that “after consulting with law enforcement and the status of the investigation, all schools will open on the regular school schedules” today.
No charges had been filed against the man by Thursday evening.
“No one at the school was ever in danger. Officers determined he was a danger to himself. That’s why he’s receiving treatment,” Nethercott said.
— Reporter Emily Mieure contributed to this story.