West Middle School gun threat investigated, dismissed overnight, district says

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A report that a student threatened to bring a gun to West Middle School was investigated overnight Thursday into Friday morning and determined to be a “rumor,” according to the Lawrence school district. 

Parents of West Middle School students received a jarring email about the incident at 12:21 a.m. Friday. 


The email, from Interim Principal Quentin Rials, said that Lawrence police and a school resource officer were investigating the report. The investigation included talking to the student who allegedly made the threat, and their family, according to the email. 

At 6:42 a.m. Friday, Rials sent a follow up email saying the threat was a social media “rumor.”

“Law enforcement worked through the night and determined through their investigation that no credible threat was made and no action was required concerning this report,” the email stated. 

Katy Lynch said she was getting her four children, ages 5, 8, 10 and 12,  ready for school, when she read both emails. 

“I read that as I’m trying to get them all ready and am somehow supposed to be able to make an informed decision when my West middle schooler should be heading to the bus by 7:20?” Lynch said. “My son stayed home and so did his friends. There was no way for me to make an informed decision in that time frame. … It didn’t make sense to risk my son’s safety.” 

A school resource officer has been assigned to West Middle School since October, according to the Lawrence Police Department. Rials’ email noted that there would be a school resource officer at school Friday “to show support to our staff and students.” 

There was also an increased police presence on the side streets around the school this morning, according to a paraeducator at Sunset Elementary, which neighbors West.

In an email interview, Julie Boyle, spokesperson for the school district, said that Thursday night a parent had reported that students were sharing on social media rumors of a student threatening to bring a gun to school. 

“The West Middle School administration worked with the Lawrence Police Department to investigate,” she wrote. “Police notified the school early this morning that their investigation determined that there was no credible threat, just rumors being shared among students online.” 

School administration did not share any more information on how the rumor might have emerged. 

“I still have no real details at all,” Lynch said. 

Boyle was not immediately able to provide a total number of students who were absent from West on Friday.

Friday was the last day of school before a weeklong fall break. 

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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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