Investigation deems threats to students a rumor at Harding High

An investigation of threats reported to the St. Paul Police Department by the parent of a Harding High School student has concluded that no danger exists.

The police department received notice of threats to Harding on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in the evening.

School officials collaborated with the St. Paul Public School District on an investigation.

"The threats were allegedly made by a school employee. Student conversations about "what-ifs" had turned into rumors that were reported to police," said Toya Stewart Downey in an emailed statement.

Stewart Downey serves as the marketing and media relations coordinator for the St. Paul school district.

Tearful call

Mother Beth Sundberg first heard about the incident when she got a tearful call from her daughter Thursday.

"My daughter said this morning that one of the lunch people was fired and then the person threatened to shoot everyone," said Beth Sundberg.

"She said there were kids who were scared and wanting to go home."

"I know it is difficult to know right now what is a rumor and what is the truth, so I called the school this morning," Sundberg said. "They told me cops were on scene handling a minor situation."

Collaborative effort

Upon inquiry, St. Paul police confirmed on Thursday, Feb. 21 that an incident had occurred at Harding.

"There was an incident, and it is being investigated," said public information coordinator Howie Padilla as the event unfolded.

In an interview Feb. 21, police public information officer Sgt. Paul Paulos said an employee recently "released" from the school district has a connection to the case and threats directed at students.

Paulos said Facebook is intertwined with the threats and at least one threat did occur through the social media website.

School administration, assisted by St. Paul Police and district security, thoroughly investigated the reports and emailed the Review late on Feb. 21 to say that no threats were made to Harding High School, nor any students or staff.

The St. Paul School District stated that Harding was not locked down on Thursday and that no disruptions to student learning occurred.

An increased number of police officers were present on the school campus throughout the morning hours conducting the investigation.

-- Rebecca Rowe

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