Vague threats of violence led to a police presence Friday in Palmyra Area School District – as well as the cancellation of school activities including a Palmyra High School football game Friday evening against West York.
District superintendent Bernard C. Kepler explained the incident in two letters sent to parents and posted Friday on the district website.
“This afternoon the Palmyra Area School District became aware of information that was very general in nature regarding violence around schools,” he wrote in the first letter, posted shortly before 3 p.m.
“Later in the afternoon, the school district became aware of an individual who was on our middle school campus and appeared suspicious,” the letter continues. “We have been working with local law enforcement throughout the afternoon. Erring on the side of caution, we have decided to postpone any after school activities occurring on Palmyra Area School District property, including tonight’s football game and all home contests on Saturday.
“Additional information will be made available to the public as soon as we are able to communicate. It is important to note that we are not aware of any immediate concern for safety. We are truly erring on the side of caution. Student dismissal will occur as regularly scheduled.”
In the second letter, Kepler said the postponements and cancellations stemmed from “an abundance of caution.”
“Palmyra Borough Police Department’s immediate response was timely and concluded that there is ‘no threat to the community,'” Kepler wrote.
Although he reiterated that specific details were unavailable at that time, due to “the ongoing local law enforcement investigation,” the superintendent reported that “information the district received was reviewed by law enforcement and they have determined that no specific, credible or documented threat occurred.”
He added that, “due to a suspicious individual at the middle school campus, local law enforcement, in partnership with an outside agency, investigated and determined the campus to be safe.
“Our team is comfortable in beginning to reschedule events that were postponed due to this situation,” Kepler added. “As always, in situations of this nature, we will maintain the safety of students, staff and our community as our paramount responsibility.”
Palmyra police Chief Andrew Winters, in a brief press release posted to CrimeWatch, noted only that the department was contacted by the school district “relative to an incident that occurred this afternoon at the Palmyra Middle School.”
“An investigation was immediately initiated and with the assistance from an outside agency, the Department was able to determine there is no threat to the community,” the release stated. “At this time, the investigation is ongoing.”
Although official reports remain vague, some parents in the district posted messages Friday saying that, besides a “suspicious individual” at the middle school, there were reports of a bomb threat at the high school stadium. Another parent complained on social media that students remained in class, unaware of the threat, even as police were arriving on campus. At least one message suggested the threats were in retaliation for the governor’s new mandate regarding masks for COVID-19 prevention.
No further information on those rumors was immediately available. However, the majority of messages on social media seemed to support Kepler’s handling of the situation.
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