Physical altercations at SC intensify

Greg Smith

Western Springs Police were contacted Tuesday with a possible threat to LT south campus, LT Principal Dr. Brian Waterman said. The police received the call around 5:30 p.m., and the school was notified around 6 p.m. that a student may have threatened to bring a weapon to school on Wednesday morning, Waterman said.
Around 8:30 p.m., the threat was deemed unfounded and the school was notified, Waterman said.
Such a police investigation would likely be centered around finding names from the caller and searching houses and cars in order to determine whether the student had the means to carry out the threat, Waterman said. After the investigation, the threat was deemed not to be credible.
Transparency also played a role in heightening these concerns, Waterman said. Late Tuesday night, LT Superintendent Dr. Timothy Kilrea issued an announcement over email regarding the threat and confirming that it was unfounded. The announcement also confirmed that this incident and a recent false alarm weapon sighting were unrelated.
As a result, 222 students left school on Wednesday for “safety” reasons, 215 of which were from SC.
Several physical altercations have also occurred at SC this week, one on Monday afternoon and the other on Tuesday morning, Waterman said, but he declined to comment on the number of students facing disciplinary action.
Waterman dismissed the idea that these fights could be gang-related.
“We have no evidence to connect any of this to gang activity,” Waterman said.
After school on Tuesday, during which rumors had spread and concerns had arose, a group of students staged a physical confrontation near the SC pool doors, Waterman said. This event only tried to capitalize on the tension present, according to Waterman, and was unrelated to other physical altercations.
A witness to Tuesday afternoon’s events, English teacher Patrick O’Neil, expressed his disappointment.
“I don’t like the fact that people enjoy watching other people fight,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil and Waterman also indicated that social media and cell phone use also likely played a role in spreading rumors.
“I hope that kids stay off their phones,” O’Neil said. I think that a lot of times, the social media aspect ends up making things worse.”
Waterman, however, dismissed the idea that this year’s new cell phone policy could have contributed to the tension and spread of yesterday’s rumors. Social media did play a role, but word would have been passed around anyway, Waterman said.
“What we did this year was simply update our policy to reflect what was actually happening,” Waterman said.