Police: No concern for safety after threat at West St. Paul middle school

The West St. Paul police chief says there is no concern for the safety of students at Heritage E-STEM Magnet School after a student made threatening comments on Wednesday. 

Chief Brian Sturgeon said in a Facebook post on Thursday there is no credible threat to the safety of any student at the middle school, and if there was the police department would have "immediately worked to suspend the school day."

The message from the chief comes after an incident involving two Heritage students on Wednesday, the day after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school. The West St. Paul Police Department said police and school officials were informed in the evening of a threat of violence made during the school day by a student toward another student. Police did not specify what the threat was. 

"The students involved and their parents are cooperating with the police investigation and there should be no concern for the safety of the students at the school," the police department said. 

Sturgeon says since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, there has been additional law enforcement at all schools in West St. Paul, and Wednesday's threat "certainly exacerbates the sense of safety for some of our students, parents and staff," noting he continues to receive phone calls and emails about the safety of students at Heritage.

"We take all threats of violence seriously especially when it comes to our students. This case remains an active investigation. We do not believe the threats could have been carried out and we do not believe there are safety concerns for any student or staff at any of our schools," Sturgeon said Thursday afternoon. "However, just because the threat could not be carried out, does not reflect the emotional trauma this incident may have caused to some of the students and staff."

Police are continuing to work with the school district and will continue the "ongoing safety measures to create a sense of security for everyone." 

Heritage also posted on Facebook Thursday afternoon in an effort to address "some discussions happening in our school community." The post reiterates much of what the police department said, adding that the school wasn't searched and no one was taken into custody because the threat was determined to not be credible. 

"Heritage will have increased police presence on site, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely," the post said. 

The school acknowledges the Uvalde, Texas, shooting has been hard on everyone and that it exacerbates the sense of safety for everyone, adding "We understand that, and are committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students."

The school did email District 197 and Heritage families Thursday morning to inform parents about what is going on knowing students could come home with questions, the post said.