‘He had a knife in his backpack’: Local police respond to several school threats

"Regardless of what the threat is- were going to take it seriously."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)- Social media posts warning of violence at schools nationwide sparked panic on Friday. Local police reassured parents that they’re more than prepared for the unknown.

“It’s our duty and we want to make sure students are safe,” Woonsocket Deputy Chief Michael Lemoine explained to ABC6 News. “Certainly as a parent, it is very nerve wracking.”

Law enforcement in Woonsocket and Johnston investigated threats, and even made several arrests.

In Johnston, rumors of a ‘threatening list’ circulated around the high school. Police Chief Joseph Razza said the situation was fully investigated and there was no credible threat made against other students.

“Nevertheless, due to the no tolerance policy that we have with the school department, the juvenile has been arrested,” said Chief Razza.

And in Woonsocket, police investigated three separate incidents.

First, a verbal threat made by a middle school student. Then, a weapon found on a 12-year-old.

“This person had sent out a Snapchat photo,” said Deputy Chief Lemoine. In that [photo] he had a knife in his backpack.”

Officers found that knife, and took the juvenile into custody. During the investigation, officers were made aware of more information.

“We found out that there was a firearm inside the home. So we immediately went to the home, spoke with the parents, and seized that firearm which is now here at the police station.”

The third situation was at Woonsocket High School around 1 p.m.

Students were put under lockdown after a report of a firearm inside of the construction school. Chief Thomas Oates told ABC6 News officers swept the building and did not find any weapons.

He says five students were possibly involved, and police are still searching for two of them.

What does it take for a threat to be considered credible?

Johnson’s Chief Razza said there are my factors investigators must take into consideration.

“Say if it’s a school shooting. Do they have access to firearms? What is their history? Do they have history of having weapons? Have they been arrested in the past?” Are common questions asked during these investigations.

Both departments told ABC6 News they were well aware of the nationwide threats, and increased their police presence at all schools, all day.

“We understand the severity of what’s going on here and that parents and guardians are going to feel uneasy,” said Chief Razza.

“Regardless of what the threat is- were going to take it seriously.”

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island