Threats in wake of Newtown have police, schools on heightened al - KCTV5

Threats in wake of Newtown have police, schools on heightened alert

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INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

The Independence police chief and schools superintendent held a news conference Wednesday to present a united front: threats of violence will not be tolerated.

Students and parents were also asked not to foment rumors of violence via social media or other outlets.

The Independence School District sent home a letter to parents after rumors swirled that a student would bring a weapon to school on Friday because of the Mayan calendar's doomsday predictions.

Similar rumors have swirled at other area schools. Threats have been found on walls and bomb threats have been made.

In an unrelated incident, a man was arrested at an Independence Walmart for making a bomb threat.

Experts believe many are unsettled because of the 26 children and staff being shot at a Connecticut elementary school. And that leads to anxiety, which leads to unwarranted rumors.

"We want to send a message that there is zero tolerance for unacceptable behavior and threats in or toward our schools and other gathering places," Independence Police Chief Tom Bailey said. "There are extraordinary security measures in place to address current concerns. We have and will continue to identify and arrest anyone making threats real or otherwise or taking other action meant to create fear or chaos."

Independence school district officials and police are trying to track down the source of the rumors in that district. Superintendent Jim Hinson said extra precautions are being taken to ensure students and staff are safe.

"I think something that all of us needs to understand that chaos and paranoia doesn't benefit intelligent conversation," Hinson said. "We need to be diligent in pursuing what we can pursue for students and staff in our school settings. But at the same time, we have been experiencing a significant level of rumor mill circulating rapidly through electronic means that have no truth to them."

Hinson and Bailey stressed that they don't want to create fear or chaos at any public gathering area, but threats will not be tolerated and safety is of paramount importance.

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