By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — Although the threat itself on Facebook was somewhat vague, it was the picture of Mound View Elementary that was alarming.
At about 11:20 a.m. on Thursday, February 6, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department received notification of a social media threat directed at Mound View Elementary in Elk Mound.
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department immediately contacted Dr. Ron Walsh, superintendent of schools, who happened to be in a meeting with the school district’s principals.
The principals each went to their buildings to make sure they were securely locked from the outside, Dr. Walsh said.
Law enforcement recommended that the schools not be placed on lockdown, he said.
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked with the school district, located the man who made the threat and talked to him.
“I was very impressed with the police, with the sheriff’s department and the state patrol. They found him in minutes. It was literally just minutes,” Dr. Walsh said.
According a news release from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, a concerned citizen reported to the Rhinelander Police Department that an adult male from Oneida County had placed a threatening post on Facebook concerning Mound View Elementary.
“The posting (on Facebook) never mentioned anyone specifically, but the guy did post a picture of Mound View,” Dr. Walsh said.
Although Dr. Walsh could not go into many details, he was able to say that the man in question knew someone at Mound View.
As soon as the threat was discovered, law enforcement officers from Dunn County and the state patrol headed for Elk Mound.
“We used an abundance of caution. There were law enforcement officers in and around the schools for most of the afternoon. We followed our safety plan,” Dr. Walsh said.
Paul Gunness, chief deputy for Dunn County, “did a good job of coordinating,” he said.
“I felt that we were really safe. The principals all did a good job. I felt good that if we ever had an incident, there would be a fast response,” Dr. Walsh said.
Dr. Walsh noted that he waited until afternoon to communicate with parents until law enforcement knew more about the man who had made the threat and to avoid sending parents into a panic about the safety of their children.
“People were happy with the communication, for the most part. Of course not everyone is 100 percent happy with everything you do,” Dr. Walsh said.
The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department is working with the Dunn County District Attorney’s office to determine what charges can be filed.
In his communication to parents, Dr. Walsh wrote: “We will continue to follow our school safety procedures, and we feel, along with law enforcement, that no one in our schools is in danger related to this social media post.
“We want to assure you that we take any and every incident that even remotely threatens safety or security in our schools seriously. We will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement and greatly appreciate their help.”