Visalia school undergoes precautions after gunfight threat

Visalia police vehicle in front of Mt. Whitney High School.(Rigo Moran)

Mt. Whitney High School undergoes increased precautions following online threats of a gunfight on campus

VISALIA – Threats of a potential gunfight at Mt Whitney High School spread across social media this weekend, which were quickly investigated by Visalia Police Department (VPD).

On Friday Aug. 18, VPD received information in regards to a social media threat aimed at Mt Whitney High School. While the threat is now unfounded, VPD is still on high alert. The district increased law enforcement presence at campuses across the Visalia Unified School District for the week of Aug. 21 to Aug. 25.

“The safety of our children is our FIRST priority and anything that threatens that will not be tolerated,” said VUSD in a public statement. “ALL threats will be taken seriously and those posting such threats will face serious consequences.”

According to the district, their process for handling threats of this nature is as follows:

  • Ensure student and staff safety.
  • Call law enforcement.
  • Principal will notify the school site families and staff of a site specific threat. If the threat is public and/or affects multiple/all schools, VUSD will send communication to all VUSD families.
  • When the district learns that the threat is credible/not credible, we can make decisions based on the information.
  • If a student is involved, the district begins our disciplinary process outlined below.

Incidents — such as the one that occurred on Aug. 18 — have become more frequent over the years, both across the district and nationwide. Kirk Shrum, the VUSD’s superintendent, said the term for this behavior is swatting.

“Unfortunately, these types of threats, also known as swatting, are occurring nationwide with more frequency,” Shrum said in a statement “We have a process for how we manage threats. Our goal will always be to keep our staff and students safe, and then assess the rest of the threat.”

Even if a threat is later deemed as swatting, such as the threat posted to Mt Whitney on Aug. 18, the district and VPD assured they take no risks in addressing situations like this one. The district asks that parents take this opportunity to educate their kids about the danger and power of social media.

“We encourage all students and parents to talk about social media and the outcome of posting inappropriate material,” VUSD said in their statement.

VUSD finished their statement by asking that anyone with information about the Aug. 18 incident or any future incidents contact the Visalia Police Department at 559-734-8117.

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