Extra security measures were put in place at Oologah-Talala after an anonymous caller told police a student had a hit list. That call came in late Tuesday night to the Roger's County Sheriff's Department. Not wanting to take any chances, police and school officials immediately took action, investigating throughout the night. Late Tuesday afternoon, they determined there was no hit list, but the News On 6â€™s Heather Lewin reports the lack of a credible threat didn't make the fears any less real for students.
â€œI could tell when I got off the bus and saw all the police, this feeling sank in that something really bad had happened," said Brittany, an Oologah-Talala student.
Luckily, nothing had, but when classes began, teachers told the students about the possible threat, and many, like Brittany, chose to go home.
â€œI just didn't feel comfortable being there because I didn't know how sure they were that it was that student and not another one or that they weren't working with another student," said Brittany.
Police had searched the building and lockers overnight and had metal detectors on standby as students filed in. Although the school remained on alert, classes continued as usual.
â€œI have two daughters in this school, and they're here today, and if I didn't feel like it was safe as a parent, I wouldn't have them here," said Oologah-Talala superintendent Rick Thomas.
Investigators continued to track down the anonymous caller, who only identified himself as a student with something to tell authorities.
â€œThat there had been a hit list prepared, and the caller specifically identified one student as the possessor of that list," said Rogers County Undersheriff Barry Lamb.
The accused student was interviewed and denied having such a list. Officials say it may have all started in a classroom on Tuesday and that the student who made the anonymous call overheard two other boys arguing. Whatever was said, it might have been enough to frighten that student into calling police.
â€œIf the caller believed there was a legitimate issue, then it was absolutely the right thing,â€ said Lamb. â€œOn the other hand, if this turns out to be bogus, a prank or an act of retaliation, then no, it was not the right thing."
Again, police later learned those fears were unfounded, but the caller is not in any trouble. Investigators say he thought the threat was real. The accused student spent the day at home with his parents.
This type of incident actually happens quite frequently and doesn't normally get media attention, but because the extra security was so visible, school officials wanted the public to know everything that was being done to keep students safe.