By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A 21-year-old Joplin man was in custody Wednesday in connection with a report of potential threats against children, Joplin police Lt. Darren Gallup said.
The alleged threats had led Superintendent C.J. Huff to implement a lockout at all Joplin public schools for about an hour and a half Wednesday afternoon.
Gallup declined to comment on the type or content of threats that were made. He said the Police Department had been notified of the alleged threats on Tuesday.
“We’re not necessarily commenting on the origin of the threat and the exact threat because it’s still under investigation,” he said. “Our primary concern obviously was the safety of the schoolchildren, and we wanted to act appropriately to ensure that safety, so we want to investigate it as fully as possible.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, police were interviewing the man in custody, but no charge had been filed. Gallup said police also were following up on leads. The man had been arrested, but police were not releasing his name.
Huff said police did not think there had been an immediate threat to Joplin schools, but because the individual had not been located by midday Wednesday, he authorized the lockout procedure as a precaution.
He said faculty and staff members had been given a description of the individual from police. As part of the school district’s lockout procedure, which was put into effect at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, all doors were kept locked, with visitors allowed inside only if someone let them in, and all students were kept inside, Huff said.
The school day continued as normal for students inside their buildings during this time, and all normal operations resumed by about 2 p.m., he said.
“GIVEN THE NATURE of the statements and the fact that they were unable to immediately locate the individual ... we thought better safe than sorry,” Superintendent C.J. Huff said of the decision to impose the lockout.