Updated: DA likely to decide fate of students involved in threat against Moffat County High School
About half of Moffat County High School students stay home day after shooting plot foiled
April 20, 2018
Editor's note: This story was updated on April 24.
CRAIG — The danger has been averted, but the fate of the two juveniles behind a recent threat against Moffat County High School will likely be determined behind closed doors by the district attorney’s office, according to police officials.
“This is resolved, I don’t think anyone else is involved. We would have shut down the school if we believed anyone else was in danger,” said Craig Police Department Captain Bill Leonard Tuesday morning, reiterating his message “there is no other known danger,” delivered when the incident came to light Thursday, and again on Friday, April 20.
At this time the department does not intend to release any additional information to the public.
Leonard anticipates reports will be sent from his office to the district attorney, “about the end of the week.” It will then become the responsibility of that office to make a charging determination.
“The DA's office is waiting for full reports to be submitted to make an appropriate decision through the juvenile system,” wrote Donna Zulian, administrator and communications director for the 14th Judicial District Attorney of Grand, Moffat and Routt counties, in an email sent Saturday, April 21.
According to the Colorado Judicial branch website, “The availability of juvenile records is primarily determined by the Children's Code (§ 19-1-301, et. seq., C.R.S.) and CJD 05-01.”
Calm, quiet day
It was a calm, quiet day of school in Moffat County on Friday, April 20, the day after quick, decisive action by a principal, school resource officer and the community foiled a school shooting planned by two students for the 19th anniversary of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Jefferson County.
Nevertheless, many local parents allowed their children to spend Friday at home.
"Speaking with other community members, multiple children of all ages were kept at home, including my own," said Jauneth Madsen, owner of Thunder Run Security and a parent of students enrolled in Moffat County's public schools. "I told them that it is the 19th anniversary, and we can miss one day, and if they mark it unexcused, that's OK."
On a normal day, a little more than 580 students attend Moffat County High School — the campus targeted by the threat. About 150 students attended class Friday. About 100 students were out of class to participate in school activities, and the rest elected to stay home.
"That was anticipated," said Moffat County School District Superintendent Dave Ulrich.
The superintendent directed his staff not to penalize students who were absent Friday, and, in a letter posted on the school district webpage and sent to parents, he wrote, "Whether you sent your students to school today or elected to keep your students at home, please know that I respect your decision. We can't wait to see everyone first thing Monday."
"Kids that were there seemed to treat it like a regular day. One student came in to talk with me for some assurances," said High School Principal Kyle York. "Teachers tried to do their best. Classes were so small, they didn't want to move on and leave kids behind."
Response draws high praise
Madsen offered high praise for the threat response, initiated by York after he received an email sent by parents of one of the two student suspects.
"I think our law enforcement and the school handled this phenomenally — 110 percent," she said. "But, if it was in one child's mind, was it in 20? Was there anyone else? I just wanted to be safer rather than sorry. This is scary, as a parent and security owner."
Madsen and her company were called to assist local law enforcement Thursday.
"This was an incident of high-school age children targeting high-school age children. We monitor another public school for high-school age children, and we are on a higher security level and have a plan in place with the school. We did this in cooperation with local law enforcement. We always work with them," she said.
Will our kids be safe?
Many expressed frustration with the lack of specific information in social media responses to the news, questioning both students’ rights to privacy and due process in a desire to answer a single, crucial question: Will their children be safe?
"I can't go into the mind of those kids to know. One of them wasn't even around, nor would have been around today. I don't know if it would have been carried through or not. That's why we reacted the way we did to move swiftly to ensure there was no way it could happen here," York said.
The school resource officer is investigating and will probably submit something to the District Attorney's office, Leonard said in response to questions from the Craig Press Friday morning.
Donna Zulian, administrator and communications director for the 14th Judicial District Attorney of Grand, Moffat and Routt counties, was out of the office and unavailable to comment Friday.
Madsen, for one, is less concerned with the details of the foiled plot and more concerned with the next steps to protect children.
"It boils down to what can I do to help?" Madsen said.
She's determined to be a good witness and to help train others to know what to look for and say something if they see something.
School Resource Officer Ryan Fritz spoke at length about how Craig schools prepare for active aggressors in a March interview. School administrators plan to continue operating with heightened vigilance.
"We will continue to do exactly what we always do — be extra vigilant and try to do things that are preventative, so we never have the other alternative," York said.
Officials added that they take all reports seriously, including those that arrive through Safe2Tell, a system which allows anyone to anonymously report a threat in Colorado.
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Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.