Gun joke raises fears at Southeast Middle School

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

An "inappropriate joke" told by a student to a friend at Southeast Middle School was misconstrued by students and parents as a "gun threat," Superintendent Tom Harrison said.

Harrison said the student told a joke to one of his friends about shooting someone.

Because of the recent student shootings in Newtown, Conn., Harrison said the boy was called into the principal's office and was told that such jokes were inappropriate in light of the recent tragedy.

But late Monday night, he said, rumors of a "gun threat" at the middle school began to circulate on Facebook.

"It was not a threat," he said. "It was never a threat. Everyone was safe at all times. Nobody was ever in danger."

Harrison said deputies from the Portage County Sheriff's Department were brought to the school at 7 a.m. in an attempt to reassure parents that everything was fine.

A few parents chose to take their children home, he said.

"Probably under normal circumstances, the joke would have been ignored," he said. "But the recent tragedy probably heightened the response. Everybody's on edge."

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