Scott Patterson: Parent of student implicated in shooting threat to Moffat County High School steps forward
As everyone in Craig knows, there was a school shooting threat made at the high school last week.
We have seen many rumors and misinformation being spread. I am the parent who turned over the letter to the authorities and to the principal. It was my son who came forward with the letter.
I am coming forward with this only because I hope that it helps put the community at ease and helps answer some questions.
Our son is very smart, and until recently, has been a great student with good grades. He has treated people well. He has, however, been very depressed since his best friend’s suicide (another Moffat County High School student) and we have seen a change in his personality. After his best friend’s death, his other close friend ostracized him and then moved. My son started hanging out with the wrong crowd after that, and he took some drugs.
We knew he was very depressed. His grades dropped, and he started missing school. Counseling didn’t seem to work. We were working with the high school principal through all of this. When we found out about his drug use, we sent him to an out-of-state treatment center in hopes that they could help him. We spent everything we had to try and get him some help and are still doing so.
Our son came forward and said that another student approached him about a school shooting plan, and our son wrote the details that were discussed.
He also said he, himself, would have never gone through with something like that and didn’t think that the other student would, either, but our son was very concerned about it, so he came forward. I am proud of my son for coming forward.
Even though we didn’t think that the kid or kids were going to go through with any plan, I immediately turned the letter over to the principal and to the authorities. In addition, I turned in (without being asked) our son’s cellphone to the police to see if they could find out who is supplying the drugs to the high school students (there are several high school students who are drug users). Just to be safe, law enforcement asked if they could search through our son’s belongings, and we gave them permission to do so. Even before this letter, we have been in contact with the principal in trying to find out who supplied the kids with drugs.
The Craig Press got the story wrong. It said that my son was in custody out of state. That is not true (the school announcement did not say this either; it only said that the student who came forward with the letter was out of state and accounted for). He was never in custody, nor were there ever any plans to take him into custody. When he came forward, he was already in a secure treatment center and had no access to weapons. We have no weapons in our house, either (though we are not against anyone who chooses to do so). I don’t know the other student, though, nor anything about him. It wasn’t easy, but I voluntarily came forward with the letter and anything else I could find out. I talked to the principal at length about this. It is much better to be safe than sorry. Even if my son was out of state and in a treatment facility and, thus, he posed no danger to anyone, if there was a shooting that could have been prevented and that happened, I don’t know if he or I could live with that. Coming forward was the right thing to do. These kinds of things must be taken seriously.
We are heartbroken about all that has happened and the hurt and fear the incident has caused to the community. We are extremely sorry for any pain and fear that was caused. Even though it hurt and was not easy, we are not sorry about coming forward though. It was the only thing to so.
Our family has served in this community, our church and with many charities and will continue to do so. Our son comes from a very loving family. Sometimes, the problems that arise in life don’t come from people who seem to be on “the wrong side of town.” They come from normal, or as far as reasonably normal families. They appear perfectly normal, are your neighbors, classmates, and go to your church. Don’t think that your kids might not be suffering or that they are beyond doing something harmful to anyone else. All parents think “not my kids; he/she would never do _____,” and we all want to believe it. I do too. Bullying and drug use is rampant in the high school, and the signs are not always obvious. If you notice a change in your child’s behavior or a change in their grades or school attendance, please seek help. This isn’t something meant to somehow be used to excuse bad behavior. Bad behavior must be addressed.
For students, please be a friend to anyone you see struggling. You don’t know how much having a good friend can mean. Peer pressure works both ways. You can use peer pressure to try and get others to do bad things, or you can use it to encourage others to do good things. Be that friend and student who encourages others to do good things. Kids need friends and good friends, at that. Be that good friend.
As far as the other student goes, there is going to be a lot of anger toward him, but he’s going to need some help and even some friends. This doesn’t mean that what was talked about was OK; it is not. I hope that he gets the help that he needs.
Once again, we are very heartbroken that this happened. We also fear being ostracized from the community that our children grew up in. There will probably be some anger directed towards us, and that is understandable. We have another child in the house who had nothing to do with this. She is a straight-A student and on an athletic team. We are afraid that she will be ostracized since he or she is now scared of going to school. We are trying to move and start over. Of course, these concerns and fears pale in comparison to any hurt this caused to the community. The concerns also pale in comparison to the pain that would have been caused if there was a shooting. Coming forward was the right thing to do. We sincerely ask for your forgiveness for the pain and fear caused to this community. We are so sorry about what has happened.
As I said earlier, I am proud of my son for coming forward to us and the authorities with this. It was a brave thing to do. We all need to make sure that kids do feel that they can come forward with these types of things. If these kids are ostracized or fearful about coming forward, they may not.
Editor’s note: The terminology expressing that the students implicated in the threat against MCHS were in custody was based on information gathered during an interview with MCHS Principal Kyle York. The Craig Press is working with Scott Patterson and his family to tell their story. We are also available to speak with other parents of students who might have something they wish to add. We hope our community will come together to support our children and families during a difficult time. This letter far exceeds the Craig Press’s 600-word limit, but given the broad community interest in this story, we felt Mr. Patterson’s submission warranted an exception to that limit.
In early April, pinwheels were planted on the lawn at McDonald’s in Craig to help raise awareness of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.