Gun Rumor Disrupts Taft High School


Additional police officers were assigned to Taft High School Thursday and Friday in response to reports on social media about a possible gunfight at dismissal time, but the incident never occurred.

A Taft parent said that there was a long line at the school’s entrance on Friday when she dropped off her daughter because school officials were conducting metal detector searches of students and checking all bags. The school regularly uses metal detectors, but it usually does not have enough staff to require most students to empty their pockets and open their bags.

Another parent said that she kept her daughter home Friday in part because of a lack of communication by the school and that much of the information she received came from an online posting by Alderman Timothy Cullerton (38th) in which he wrote that police are warning about possible gun violence at the school. The parent said that the school should have sent an e-mail to parents Thursday evening explaining the situation, including any plans to beef up security at the school.

16th (Jefferson Park) District Police commander James O’Donnell said that there were some arrests at the school Thursday but that they were not related to the gun threats. Another student faces possible disciplinary action by the school after he posted a picture of himself holding a rifle on Facebook, but that student is not connected with the threats, O’Donnell said.

State police were among those who notified the district about the social media postings which warned of a gunfight at the school, O’Donnell said. Not all of the threats mentioned the use of guns, and some them indicated that the fight was going to be gang-related, he said.

O’Donnell said that whether a school-related threat is considered serious or not, “we are going to err on the side of caution.

“Our response would have been the same whether the shooting in Connecticut had occurred or not,” O’Donnell said.

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