Authorities in Portage are telling parents there is no cause for concern after a round of Snapchat messages circulated Thursday night among Portage High School students encouraging students to stay away from school Friday.
The worry among students and their parents stemmed from two individual threats investigated earlier this week, one involving threats made on Facebook on Tuesday and the other relating to Snapchats circulated later that day.
Police made an arrest Tuesday night in one of the cases in which they found a 16-year-old Portage High School student had threatened to harm another student. The 16-year-old student was taken to the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center on a preliminary felony charge and is also believed to be responsible for vague threats made more than a month ago involving a countdown to Dec. 7.
Police and school officials worked quickly to resolve both threats and organize a heightened security presence in the high school for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week, Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said.
But fear returned late Thursday night as students shared a Snapchat suggesting the arrested student might return to school Friday, the day of which threats earlier in the week had been centered.
Porter Country Sheriff Dave Reynolds said that the student is still being held the Juvenile Detention Center and that school resource officers in the district have a good pulse on the situation.
Portage Township Schools reached out to parents in emails and phone calls Thursday night and Friday morning to share details of the increased police and security presence across the district.
"Our goal is to maintain a safe and productive learning environment for our students and staff, as their safety and security remains our first priority," Superintendent Amanda Alaniz said in a statement.
Williams said his department placed two additional officers at the high school, and dedicated others to patrolling the area surrounding other schools in the district. He thanked the community for coming forward with information.
"We know students want a safe learning environment and we will do whatever is needed to make it happened," Williams said.
Classes in the high school are taking place as usual, Portage schools spokeswoman Melissa Deavers-Lowie said.
Williams said he believes this week's threats have been handled, but encouraged anyone with additional information or concerns to reach out to police.
"We've already encouraged people if you see something, say something," he said. "We will investigate it and look into it. It can't just be the police. It's got to be the parents and students as well."