LOCAL NEWS

Police: Threats To Daycares, Preschools Were Not Credible

Jan 22, 2019, 7:23 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2019, 12:45 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The phoned-in threats to numerous daycare centers in the Salt Lake Valley weren’t credible, police said. Even so, the caller caused disruption and panic at more than a dozen locations.

“A male caller is calling schools stating he is in the parking lot and threatening violence on the school,” said a statement from Salt Lake City Police.

Several police agencies responded to the threats in Salt Lake City, Cottonwood Heights and Millcreek.

“We do not have any information at this time that would make us think that these threats are credible,” Unified Police said in a statement. “We will continue to respond to any threats, real or otherwise, of harm to children and schools in our community.”

The owner of a daycare that received one of the threatening phone calls said it shattered their sense of security.

“I just can’t imagine a mind that would want to put people through that feeling,” said Veronica Nelson, the executive program director at Child Time, Inc. “I just can’t imagine how this would qualify as a joke to anyone.”

Nelson said she was in the room when one of her employees at The Avenues Preschool answered the phone around lunchtime and listened to a male voice say that he was involved in a custody battle and had an automatic weapon.

“He very calmly went over the fact that he was in our parking lot and prepared to do harm,” she said.

Staff members at the preschool took the children to the basement where they waited for police to arrive.

“You’re responsible for all these little lives and to have someone intent to do them hard is a frightening feeling,” she said, “and no matter how much you plan, it does leave you feeling helpless.”

Dozens of patrol cars responded to the various locations with lights and sirens blaring.

“It’s not even fathomable to think about shooting up a daycare,” said Detective Greg Wilking with Salt Lake City police. “That’s a really sick sense of humor and on top of it, you’re putting a lot of people’s lives at risk.”

Because of the heavy police activity, nearby schools went into lockout mode, including the Open Classroom, Liberty Elementary, Wasatch, Elementary, and Ensign Elementary in the Salt Lake City School District.

In the Granite School District, Evergreen Jr. High, along with William Penn, Roosevelt, Mill Creek elementary schools enacted shelter-in-place protocols.

“There’s also the possibility that somebody is trying to lure us away from a particular area,” Wilking said. “And then also the concern is that somebody may be trying to lure us to a particular area to gauge our response or to carry out a threat against law enforcement.”

Since the calls were made directly to the preschools and daycare centers, they were not recorded by police dispatch.

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Police: Threats To Daycares, Preschools Were Not Credible