Tragedy averted

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Given the heightened sensitivities regarding school gun violence in the wake of yet another incident in Parkland, Florida, last week, it is no surprise that word of threats made this week on social media against several local schools in the area spread quickly. Fortunately, those aware of the threats made against Southampton High School immediately shared that information with the proper authorities, ensuring a quick arrest and quickly putting worried parents’, students’ and teachers’ minds at ease.

There are three groups of people we need to commend for their actions. First, the individuals who notified the authorities as soon as they became aware of the threat got the ball rolling on an investigation that took little more than 36 hours to complete. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — if you see something, say something. Don’t make the assumption that someone else has called the police.

Second, the Southampton County Sheriff’s office did a magnificent job leaping into action, not just in investigating the perpetrator, but perhaps more importantly in making sure there was an extensive law enforcement presence at each one of the county schools on Tuesday. Their presence not only helped ensure our children’s safety, but also provided a significant level of comfort to parents, children and teachers who were unsure what today would bring.

And lastly, we would like to thank the schools’ leadership. Supt. Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon did a terrific job not only in reacting swiftly to the threats, but also in proactively reaching out to the school community to assure them that everything that could be done, was being done to keep our children safe. That type of open, transparent and proactive communication has at times been sorely lacking in our community’s schools. Her decision to reveal, rather than conceal, the facts of what were taking place helped provide a level of calm during a situation that could have dissolved into chaos.