LAUREN LIPPERT//SAVANAH HOWARD
Two 16-year-old students Mountain Vista students allegedly plotted to commit first-degree murder against staff and students at Vista. They have been taken into custody by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO).
The DCSO said authorities were made aware of these threats on Saturday, Dec. 12 through “Text-A-Tip,” an anonymous texting hotline where students can express their concerns to Douglas County Sheriff’s.
Mountain Vista Media has received more information from the DCSO’s representative Sgt. Bronner, Mountain Vista Principal Michael Weaver and Superintendent Liz Fagen. The questions and answers to them are expressed below.
Why was information on the threats not released to the public until Tuesday, Dec. 15 when the DCSO knew about them on Saturday, Dec. 12?
Principal Weaver: An investigation takes a long time– the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was certain, in the early stages, that credible threats had been contained on Saturday so law enforcement then continued with their investigation.
Sgt. Bronner: We were confident that the school, staff and students were safe from anything planned while we continued to gather the information necessary to charge the individuals. On an active open case, releasing details of the investigation could compromise the ability of our office to obtain further evidence to ensure a successful prosecution. We are also hindered in releasing details by the fact that the suspects are juveniles in which release is dictated by law, and that the District Attorney has sealed the case and asked that we do not release any more information about the details.
Were students in danger at school on Monday?
Principal Weaver: The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was certain, in the early stages, that credible threats had been contained on Saturday. In collecting information and determining the course of action the Douglas County Sheriffs and DCSD were not prepared to share information without tainting or altering the investigation until this morning even though – danger was posed by this threat on Monday. I would never knowingly put [students] in danger.
Sgt. Bronner: We trust that the citizens of Douglas County trust us to take appropriate action when we think it is necessary and work closely with the school district at coordinating that information. At this point, we are confident that our most important work is to continue to gather untainted information in order to make the best case possible with these defendants in order to ensure continued safety to our community.
Superintendent Fagen: There is a lot of information obviously that we cannot share but every single member of the DCSO as well as DCSD leadership and safety and security offices have been well briefed and feel very confident in the process that we have gone through and where we are in this. If any single person on either of those teams felt that there was a safety concern for our staff or students we would absolutely take action.
Is Text-A-Tip used often?
Sgt. Bronner: We get many tips from students everyday about security concerns, possible threats or simply about comments made that could be considered threats. We fully investigate each one to ensure the safety of our students and school staff, but many times these come and go without any notice to students or citizens.
Superintendent Fagen: We want to still encourage our parents, our staff, our students to remember that they are part of our safety team. We rely on them. The tools Text-A-Tip and Safe-To-Tell have been very important to us. The more that you people can help us help other people understand that those tools are available to them, the safer all schools will be in my view.
What is the DCSO currently doing with the investigation?
Sgt. Bronner: At this point, we are confident that our most important work is to continue to gather untainted information in order to make the best case possible with these defendants in order to ensure continued safety to our community.
Superintendent Fagen: According to DCSO, these two students have been apprehended and face serious felony charges including conspiracy to commit first degree murder. While there is little more we can say at this time due to the investigative process, we want you to know that many of the safety systems we have in place
worked well – did their jobs successfully, and it was through these systems, including our partnerships with law enforcement and our families, that this threat was successfully disrupted.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office: This is an open and ongoing investigation; detectives are actively working this case in cooperation with the 18th District Attorney’s Office and the Douglas County School District to ensure the safety of all students. At this time we believe the situation has been contained and the threat disrupted.
Was this threat credible or a hoax?
Superintendent Fagen: Most of the time the threats are not found to be credible. This one was. DCSO has investigated and confirmed a credible threat to MVHS from two female, MVHS students who planned to cause harm to our staff and students at MVHS this week.
Principal Weaver: According to DCSO, these two students have been apprehended and face serious felony charges including conspiracy to commit first degree murder.
Safe 2 Tell / Text-A-Tip Hotline: 1-877-542-SAFE