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Local News

Lockport Township High School fight leaves one student seriously injured

Lockport D-205 superintendent responds to violence, additional gun threat

A student at Lockport Township High School District 205’s East Campus was attacked by another student and seriously injured Thursday, according to a letter from the district.

There was an increased police presence at the school Friday after a related threat spread via the social media platform Snapchat, District 205 Superintendent Todd Wernet said in an updated letter.

Thursday’s letter explained a fight occurred between two LTHS students earlier this month, and rumors about additional conflicts between those students and friends continued into the next day and throughout the weekend. LTHS administration investigated the rumors and found no threat to the school, the letter said, but unrest between the two groups continued.

On Thursday, the East Campus was put under a “code yellow” restriction at the start of the school day after a student was attacked by another student and seriously injured. The student was taken by ambulance to a hospital, according to the letter.

The attacking student was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, and school disciplinary procedures are underway. Students recorded and shared the attack on social media.

“Because of the unrest and rumors, currently unfounded, associated with recent events, the LTHS administration has moved into a Code Yellow to restrict movement in the building at 12:15 p.m.,” an announcement from the school said Thursday. “The Code Yellow is not due to an immediate threat. The Code Yellow has been called to reduce movement within the school, restrict the spread of rumors, and allow an opportunity for deans to complete their investigation into this morning’s events.”

LTHS Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Tony Cundari said that as of about 2 p.m. Thursday, the investigation was ongoing, and they hoped to complete it soon. Lockport Deputy Police Chief Ron Huff referred comment to the school district about the situation but reiterated that there was no immediate threat to the students and staff.

“It’s just an investigation at this time,” Huff said.

About 4 p.m. Thursday, the original announcement on the district’s website was replaced with the letter explaining the situation.

It explained that as the day progressed, rumors about additional concerns, including about a possible weapon, spread among students and were shared on social media. The school moved to the code yellow to “calm these fears and allow an opportunity for the school administration to complete their investigation and ensure the safety of all students.”

“Incidents of fighting have not been on the increase from previous years,” Wernet said. “These recent incidents are not the norm. ... Fighting or other aggressive behavior will not be tolerated.”

Students were held in their classrooms and “encouraged to share any information with deans and administration.” After-school activities also were canceled Thursday.

During the investigation, Lockport police assisted deans and conducted searches of multiple lockers, but the rumors all were unsubstantiated.

“Yesterday’s battery of a Lockport student has shocked us all,” Wernet said in Friday’s letter. “I know many have viewed the video on social media witnessing the viciousness of the attack. I was able yesterday to personally visit with the injured student and his mother. He is now at home and told me that he is eager to return to classes.”

Wernet went on to say that after dismissal Thursday, school staff was made aware of a threatening message circulating on Snapchat. The message said there would be students retaliating for Thursday’s incident by bringing guns to school Friday.

The message also indicated it was white students planning to retaliate against black students, but Wernet said that the students involved in Thursday’s altercation both were white. He added that two groups of students have had an ongoing “tussle” and that throughout Friday, school staff had been making contact with members of these groups and their parents.

Wernet said the district’s investigators spent many hours “back channeling” through individuals who reposted the message on Snapchat. The investigation traced the information back to the student who originally had posted the message. That student said he or she had heard about the threat from someone as they were walking from school but could not identify who originated the threat.

Ultimately, the claim made by the Snapchat message was deemed to be unsubstantiated.

Wernet also said the increased police presence would remain throughout the rest of the semester, and counselors and social workers would be available for students.

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