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'Stakes were higher': Independence superintendent discusses response to threat

Dr Dale Herl.jpg
Posted at 10:14 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 11:14:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A "mass murder" threat made Tuesday prompted districts around the Kansas City area to cancel activities Wednesday, before a 19-year-old male suspect was taken into custody by the Blue Springs Police Department.

The Independence School District was one of eight major districts in the area to close for the day after the threat was made. Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl, spoke with KSHB 41 News reporter Charlie Keegan on how the district responded to the threats.

“Last night after 10 p.m. I received a text message from the Blue Springs superintendent letting us know about a threat they had received. That started to put some things into motion," Herl said. "Obviously we didn’t have a lot of information. I waited until this morning to make this call, hoping, honestly they would apprehend the individual who had made the threats.”

Around 8:45 a.m., the Blue Springs Police Department announced the suspect had been taken into custody with charges pending from the Jackson County Prosecutors Office.

Prior to the announcement, Herl says he made contact with Blue Springs and an Independence safety officer, and made the decision to cancel activities for the day, to protect the lives of the over 4,500 students in summer school with the Independence School District, around 25% of its total student body.

“Certainly it’s not convenient for anyone and we understand that, but we always want to be sure we take safety of our students very seriously. It’s like a snow day but in June. We have to treat it a lot like that, but obviously the stakes were higher in this instance,” he said.

Herl also says he was informed that the threat of mass murder was made, but not directed toward a specific building or school district.

He says recent shootings, like the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two adults dead, were top of mind when it came to taking the threats seriously.

"Certainly [recent shootings] are right at the forefront of the decision-making. I think that is every superintendent’s biggest nightmare and that’s why we have to just be cautious,” he said.