SHERWOOD, Ark. — A specific and 'viable' threat made against students and staff at Sylvan Hills High School forced the Pulaski County Special School District to cancel classes Wednesday, turning kids and parents back and declaring an AMI Day.
The district announced Wednesday evening that they will continue investigating the threat into Thursday, prompting an AMI day.
A spokesperson with the school district said the school made the decision to close only the main Sylvan Hills High School campus because the threat is isolated to a specific area in the high school.
"The threat seems too specific to the school," said Jessica Duff, the PCSSD spokesperson. "Specifically, some actual employees at the school that we can't just assume that it's a hoax."
The district says the threat came on a blog site and also through Reddit channels. It talked about "Bear Paw" road and a school that rhymes with "Silent Hills." It threatened mass violence and said people would not have time to prepare. It also described a particular person to be first.
"It's gut-wrenching if you've had a chance to read it. It's gut-wrenching," said Duff. "Cafeteria workers are here early in the morning prepping breakfast for the school, so they remained in lockdown all morning."
Sherwood police are leading the investigation with help from Arkansas State Police and the FBI. A combination of law enforcement and social media alerts picked up the online threat.
"This case is a fantastic example of individuals in our Arkansas community coming forward to say something when they saw something suspicious," said Connor Hagan, a spokesperson for the FBI office in Little Rock. "We will provide all available resources to our Arkansas law enforcement partners, and we will continue to work closely with them throughout this investigation."
By mid-afternoon, the district and Sherwood police announced they had narrowed the source of the threat and had individuals they were trying to speak with as persons of interest.
That cleared the way for basketball games to go forward on time. For the first time, students will have to pass through metal detectors when they arrive.
The call to cancel class came about 45 minutes before first bell. That upset some parents, but others applauded the move.
"Know that we have a full team here," Duff said. "We will continue to be at the school to make sure that it is 100% safe for students and faculty to return tomorrow."