Reidland high and middle schools to open Wednesday after threat - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Reidland high and middle schools to open Wednesday after threat

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Law enforcement held a news conference at 1 p.m. Law enforcement held a news conference at 1 p.m.
Reidland High School (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Todd Tumminia) Reidland High School (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Todd Tumminia)
Reidland Middle School  (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Todd Tumminia) Reidland Middle School (Source: KFVS multimedia journalist Todd Tumminia)
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MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY (KFVS) -

Reidland middle and high schools will be open Wednesday after it was closed Tuesday due to a threat.

McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden says he and investigators interpreted a letter sent to a newspaper that reporter read to them as an imminent danger to the students and school.

"It was a very clear imminent threat," Hayden said. "That was the way I perceived it and everyone involved in this investigation."

The writer of the letter mentioned someone bringing guns to school twice and planning different places in the school for potential shootings and/or bombings.

Paducah Sun Editor and Publisher Jim Paxton says the writer of the letter was a juvenile.

"I think the thing people need to understand is the writer of this letter did not make a specific threat," Paxton said. "He merely was relating information he had heard."

He said the writer did not make any threats to the school. He thinks his staff did the right thing in handling the situation and protecting the identity of the writer.

The newspaper arranged a meeting with the sheriff so the writer and the person who told the writer information could meet with authorities. They hammered out some details that led police to search the school.

The McCracken County Sheriff's Department, in conjunction with McCracken County School Resource Officers and the Kentucky State Police have completed a search of the buildings and have rendered both buildings safe. The Sheriff's Department has completed its investigation into the details surrounding the reported threat.

The investigation started when a reporter contacted the sheriff's department around 10 a.m. about the threat Monday.

When the sheriff and a detective requested the letter and the author's name and phone number attached to the letter, the newspaper denied the request citing ethical obligations to protect the newspaper's sources.

When the sheriff and a captain met with the newspaper's executive editor around 1 p.m., their request for the letter and author's information was denied again.

Around 4:30 p.m., the newspaper agreed to turn over the letter, but refused to provide the author's name or contact information.

Several law and school officials met Monday evening to discuss the threat and decided to cancel school until the threat has been adequately investigated.

Reidland Middle School was also closed as an extra precaution because the two school buildings are attached.

The McCracken County Sheriff held a news conference Tuesday afternoon urging a Paducah newspaper to release the author of a letter to containing a serious threat to Reidland High School.

Tuesday afternoon, school officials were made aware that the Paducah Sun had released the name of the author of the letter and the McCracken County Sheriff's Department began an investigation into the threat.

Both the Reidland High School and Reidland Middle School buildings were searched and rendered safe by law enforcement officials. Coordinating with the Kentucky State Police and McCracken County School Resource Officers, law enforcement conducted a canine search of both buildings. Officers also conducted a second, hands-on search of both buildings. Both school buildings are safe and classes will resume on Wednesday morning.

Superintendent Dr. Nancy Waldrop says the school made the right decision in closing the school as a precaution because they didn't have enough details about the threat.

McCracken County Public Schools released a statement including: "The safety of students and staff is the first and most important priority in McCracken County Public Schools. We are committed our efforts to collaborate with local community agencies to create a unified effort for school safety. We ask the entire school community to renew its efforts to help us keep our students and schools safe."

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