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Rumor of guns being brought into SLHS unfounded

Becky Vargo • May 16, 2019 at 7:06 PM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Some parents thought about keeping their children home from school Thursday, the day it was rumored that a couple of students were planning to bring guns to Spring Lake High School. 

But attendance for the day was at 95 percent, even higher than the two previous days, according to the district’s superintendent, Dennis Furton, who said the rumor was thoroughly investigated and there was no threat.

“Please be assured that your child’s safety is always our first priority,” Furton wrote in a letter emailed to parents of Spring Lake Public Schools students on Wednesday.

According to SLHS Principal Mike Gilchrist, in the same letter, the rumor started last Friday when some students overheard a conversation about a gun and reported that conversation to school officials. 

“Because we would not take any rumors like this lightly, and as per our protocol, the two students (involved) were brought to the office along with their parents and two Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies,” Gilchrist wrote. “The students were questioned, as were their classmates, and it was determined that the students were being irresponsible and making a completely inappropriate attempt at humor in their discussion, but never made any tangible threats toward anyone.”

As a further precaution, deputies went to the students’ homes and performed a search to make sure that neither student had access to weapons. The deputies indicated there was no threat after the search, Gilchrist said.

“We are all familiar with how quickly rumors can spread and misinformation can be taken as fact,” the high school principal wrote to district parents. “I’m sharing the facts about this situation so that you can be confident that the initial situation was thoroughly investigated and the clear outcome was that we had two students acting in an immature manner as opposed to something more serious.”

Capt. Derek Christiansen of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said, “We see time and time again kids are making comments that are not intended to be malicious.”

 

But he noted that the Sheriff’s Office takes such concerns seriously and everyone acted appropriately regarding the incident.

“We would have taken appropriate action if there was anything there,” Christiansen said.

There were no arrests, but the report will still be turned over to the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office for review. That is normal procedure, Christiansen said. 

“Most people understand this is much ado about nothing,” said the school superintendent.

But because the rumor mill is so strong, Furton said school officials felt it was important to get an explanation of the incident out to parents.

“I think this is the second situation that resembles this since I’ve been in Spring Lake,” Furton said. “Rumors have made it into something it is not.” 

Furton noted that his son was in school on Thursday, as were Gilchrist’s children.

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