Belmont High School students believing gun threat hide, flee classes

Belmont High School freshman Jasmyne Scott, 14, and sophomore Dontavious Taylor, 16, fled the school Wednesday morning after rumors circulated that another student was inside with a gun. Police said a student had made threats but took him into custody earlier that day away from school. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

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Belmont High School freshman Jasmyne Scott, 14, and sophomore Dontavious Taylor, 16, fled the school Wednesday morning after rumors circulated that another student was inside with a gun. Police said a student had made threats but took him into custody earlier that day away from school. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

A threat by a Belmont High School student who was taken into custody by police outside of school early Wednesday spiraled into rumors of an armed student in the school later in the morning, panicking students, prompting a lockdown and worrying parents with yet another report of a firearm in an area school.

This time, the report of a gun was unfounded, police said.

Dayton Police Maj. Joseph Wiesman said two students had a fight the day before and one sent a text message indicating a weapon would be used to resolve the differences. Other students heard about the text and one relayed to 9-1-1 the potential of a gun in the school.

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“Unbeknownst to them, we already had the young man in custody,” Wiesman said.

The student was booked into the Juvenile Justice Center for a count of making terroristic threats, according to police.

Police responded to the school about 10. a.m.

About 30-40 police units along with Dayton Fire Department medics arrived and circled the school as scores of students fled outside while others hunkered behind locked doors.

Because word of a threat spread between class periods, many students evacuated while others remained in classrooms.

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Jasmyne Scott, 14, a freshman, fled outside.

“I literally started crying and ran out the door,” Scott said. “Everyone just started running.”

At 10:39 a.m., the Dayton Police Department notified the community that the school was cleared to resume classes.

Marisha Collins got a call Wednesday morning that no parent wants to hear. Collins was plenty relieved both her children who attend the school were safe, but scares like this make her upset.

“I’m just very angry that I can’t send my children to school and I feel safe and they feel safe coming to school,” Collins said.

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Kory Hodge got a frantic call Wednesday from her little sister. Payton Jent, 13, phoned to say someone had a gun in the school and cops where everywhere. Hodge immediately thought the worst: “What if she gets shot?”

“There have been so many school shootings,” said Hodge, 23, who rushed to the school at 2615 Wayne Ave. to pick up her sister. “I have a baby and he’s not even one yet and I’m terrified to send him to day care or school when he gets that old.”

Just three weeks ago, 17 people – 14 of them students — were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz was formally charged Wednesday with 17 counts of first-degree murder.

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Wiesman said law enforcement is constantly adapting to new threats and Dayton Police conducted a debriefing after the Florida shooting to “come up with the best plans to save lives.”

The number of loaded guns found on students – as young as a kindergartener – has been on the rise in recent weeks. Loaded guns have been taken from a 14-year-old at Edwin Joel Brown Middle School in Dayton, a 6-year old at Kenwood Elementary School in Springfield, as well as the kindergartener at Timberlane Learning Center classroom in Harrison Twp.

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Wiesman said the girl who called 9-1-1 prompting the lockdown and police response did the right thing.

“Just like we tell them, if you see something say something,” he said. “She wanted to play it better safe than sorry.”

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