‘Hit list’ forces school lockdown
SILVER SPRINGS – The discovery of a note entitled “Ultimate Hit List” and naming 51 people as the targets prompted school and law enforcement officials to lock down a Lyon County school for nearly six hours on Wednesday.
Lyon County Sheriff’s Capt. Allen Veil said no weapons were found during the search, and investigators have not determined who was responsible for the handwritten note found at Silver Stage High School about 9:30 a.m.
A teacher’s aide who discovered the folded, “well-worn” note on the floor in a first-period class turned it over to the teacher who gave it to the office. Veil said Principal Pat Peters immediately put the school into lockdown and called police. Peters declined comment.
Written on lined-notebook paper in at least two distinct handwritings, the dates “Oct. 4-13, 2006,” were at the top of the paper with a time of 11:11 a.m. and “Third period.” Below the header “Ultimate Hit List,” was the statement, “These will die,” Veil said. The names of 40 students and 11 staff members of the high school were then listed.
He said investigators spent the day interviewing the 29 students in the classroom where the note was discovered and some students named in the note, and officers also began comparing the handwritings found in the message to handwriting samples of students who use the classroom. Veil said samples that closely resemble the note would be turned over to the Washoe County Crime Lab for handwriting comparison.
All the lockers in the building were searched as well as the backpacks of the school’s 418 students, who were locked for the day in their first-period classes.
“We searched every locker in this school, and no weapons were found,” he said.
Sophomore Sheldon Phelps of Silver Springs said he was in his math class when the teacher locked the door to the room without explanation.
“We were in there all day,” the 15-year-old said, noting at some point “the officers came in and searched our bags.”
Sheldon said he was never told what prompted the lockdown. Students were released from the school just after 2 p.m.
According to his mother, who heard of the incident from a neighbor about 1 p.m., the school also would not tell parents what was happening.
“They wouldn’t release any information,” said an irritated Tabitha Perkins. “They should have notified the parents that the school was locked down.”
Perkins said she only learned of the circumstances of the lockdown from the media assembled outside when she went to the school.
But this isn’t the first time she’s heard of Silver Stage locking down the school, she said, about which she’s never been able to get information.
“You call the school, and the school says nothing. You call the sheriff’s office, and they say it’s a school matter. So where do you go? We’re at a loss,” she said.
Veil said the parents of those students who were named in the note will be called and informed of the incident.
He also said it’s up to parents to determine if they want their children to attend the school in the dates outlined in the note.
“That’s why I mentioned the dates. Parents should use their own discretion,” he said.
And, he noted, parents could also take a part in the investigation.
“Ask your kids what they know. We want parents to pay attention to what their kids are saying,” he said.
Though school officials and law enforcement were taking the issue seriously, Veil said some of the students named in the note who were interviewed by police were not impressed by the situation.
“They haven’t been real concerned by the note,” he said. “They don’t seem to have let it affect them at all.”
Lyon County School District Superintendent Nat Lommori said the district made the right decision in locking the school down.
“You have to take these things very seriously, with all the recent shootings,” he said referring to recent school shooting in which seven people were killed in three states. “I think we did the prudent thing. You can’t take that chance.”
Wednesday’s incident was the second time the school had been locked down this week. Lommori said similar precautions were taken Monday after school when one student made verbal death threats against another.
The two incidents do not appear to be related, he said.
Though punishments in Monday’s case have not yet been decided, Lommori said, the standard consequence of making a death threat is expulsion.
– The Nevada Appeal’s Teri Vance contributed to this report.