Reported shooting threat closes schools in Poultney and raises concerns

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 5:46 PM EDT
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POULTNEY, Vt. (WCAX) - Schools in Poultney were closed on Thursday following a reported threat.

The Rutland County Sheriff’s Department and the Vermont State Police are investigating threats of a shooting at Poultney High School. Parents say they’re concerned.

“I would always say, in the past, it won’t happen here. It can happen anywhere,” said Michael, who has a daughter who attends Poultney High School. For her safety, he did not want to provide his last name.

Wednesday afternoon, high school administrators became aware of concerning conversations and rumors circulating throughout the community and on social media about a potential shooting at the school. This prompted an investigation by the sheriff’s department.

“We hadn’t gotten anything new on anything with a firearm or any type of shooting, and I believe last night we exhausted all the leads that we had, and it turned out not to be anything that we could use for credibility. So we’re still just monitoring it,” Rutland County Sheriff David Fox said.

Fox says they were told of the alleged threats through an annonymous tip, and are still working to investigate.

Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union Superintendent Chris Sell says they chose to cancel school out of an abundance of caution. He says tips from parents have led school staff to begin looking into separate incidents.

“Working with the superintendent over at Slate Valley, we’re looking at not just a community-based problem, it really is a regional issue with regard to some students and groups of students. So, we’re looking at how we address the situation here at Poultney but as well as across the region,” Sell said.

Sheriff Fox says on Tuesday, a home near the school was broken into and a firearm was stolen. Several posts on social media mentioned the possibility of a shooting. But he says police have no reason to believe that students from the high school are involved.

“If you hear something or see something directly, please contact law enforcement. Posting it on social media sites, it just slows things down for us. If we have someone we can directly go to and ask those questions we need to ask, makes it much more efficient,” Fox said.

Parents say given the scare, they’re choosing to keep their kids home from school.

“Do we know that our kids are going to be safe? You can say yes and then all hell breaks loose. They need to get to the bottom of it and show us that these kids are going to be safe,” said Carrie, a parent of a Poultney High School student.

School officials say with graduation on Friday, the high school will be open as normal with an increased police presence on campus.

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Classes canceled at Poultney High School after possible threat