A kindergartner at Harrison Public School asked the superintendent if she was safe Wednesday and if there was a bomb in the building, he said.
Fred Hofman ended up talking to the entire elementary class about the concerns regarding threats against the school from a boy who brought guns to school last year.
“If I thought there was an imminent risk, we wouldn’t be here right now,” he said.
As a precaution due to the threats former student Spencer Ore made about blowing up the school, law enforcement has increased patrol at the school.
“The superintendent asked, given the heightened anxiety people in the Harrison area are feeling,” Madison County Undersheriff Roger Thompson said. No incidents have been reported so far.
At least two deputies also will be at Friday’s homecoming dance and Harrison-Sheridan basketball game, which both were moved to Willow Creek school about 25 miles away due to the threats.
Ore is accused of writing threatening messages on Facebook while conversing with a Harrison student. He denied allegations of intimidation and obstructing a peace officer. Court documents say Ore thought his threats might “scare and impress” the student he was writing and also “made him feel powerful.”
Bonnie Lower, superintendent of Willow Creek, said she asked for the change of location after Ore was released into his parents’ custody at a youth court hearing Monday. The two schools are interlinked in many ways, she said.
“You have one student that’s a target — they’re all a target,” she said.
Hofman said officials have planned events through the weekend. They will meet again to assess the situation and see if they will continue to hold practices and games elsewhere.
“We’ve got to make this work. It’s just unfortunate that we have to jump through these hoops, but we have to,” Hofman said.
Spencer Ore was 15 when he took a loaded .357 Magnum revolver and a .22-caliber pistol to Harrison Public School in January 2013. He remains on probation from his initial charge of criminal endangerment for having the weapons in his backpack. After admitting the allegations in May 2013, Ore served seven months in a youth home before being released to his parent’s custody in December.
“His parents have done everything right, but I just don’t agree with him being home,” Hofman said.
Ore has been released into the custody of his parents to be on house arrest, and can only leave home to attend school, or if he’s within arm’s length of one of his parents. Other conditions of his release are that he is not allowed access to the Internet and not to step foot on Harrison school grounds. He travels to Bozeman for school at a day-treatment program.
“We’re still supportive of the student. We’re not comfortable that he’s where he needs to be right now,” Hofman said.
“We’re just not comfortable with him yet.”
Contact Brandt at 406-496-5519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.