Shooting threat not credible; state to fund security improvements

Posted 6/1/22


Less than a week after the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas  a threat of a school shooting at Lippitt Elementary School was investigated over the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Shooting threat not credible; state to fund security improvements



Less than a week after the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas  a threat of a school shooting at Lippitt Elementary School was investigated over the Memorial Day weekend.

“A student from the school did create a chat on Saturday afternoon saying that he will shoot up the school,” Superintendent Lynn Dambruch said in an email Tuesday morning.

Dambruch said that parents notified Martin Susla, Principal of Lippitt about the chat.

“Mr. Susla worked with the police and the student’s parents,” said Dambruch. “After the police investigated, they concluded that the threat was disturbing but not credible.”

Susla in an email to parents said, “a couple parents emailed me and shared a screenshot of the conversation.”

“While the threat was disturbing, it was also very upsetting that a couple students didn’t stand up and voice objections but said, ‘alright.”  This type of bystander action is exactly the opposite of what we’d expect from our Lippitt young citizens,” said Susla.

According to the email from Susla he spoke to the school resource officer and another, “who became directly involved in the situation.”

“He assessed the threat and found it disturbing but unwarranted. Consequences were issued as I contacted and more may be coming as we assess information,” said Susla.

Funds for school safety

On Tuesday Gov. Dan McKee along with the Rhode Island State Police, and the Rhode Island Department of Education announced that school districts could be reimbursed for making improvements to the security of their schools.

“Public safety, and especially the safety of our children, must be our highest priority,” said McKee. “The best way for us to ensure that what happened in Uvalde cannot happen here is to make serious investments in repairs and security upgrades. Rhode Island families deserve that peace of mind.”

According to a press release every school district in the state needs to conduct “walkthroughs of the school facilities in their district and complete a comprehensive survey of potential emergency hazards, including reviews of doors and windows, car access, landscape features, lighting, alarm and camera systems, and communications systems.”

These walkthroughs and corresponding reports have to be shared with RIDE and the School Safety Committee by next Friday.

“Schools where potential hazards are found will be encouraged to work with local law enforcement and their school safety teams to identify solutions to those hazards, including determining the time and cost of implementation,” the press release reads. “RIDE will authorize up to $500,000 in emergency approval through the School Building Authority for each district to make whatever additional security upgrades their school facilities need and be reimbursed after the work is complete.”

School administrators did not respond to inquiries as to how they intended to conduct the school by school inspection and report as of press time Wednesday. 

Armed guards in schools

The unsubstantiated Lippitt School threat along with the school shooting in Texas led to chatter on Facebook Tuesday night.

One proposal came from Katelyn Lafontaine who suggested that there be armed guards in all schools across Rhode Island.

A mother of a fourth grader and an aunt of a first grader at Oakland Beach Elementary School Lafontaine said in a Facebook post “I would like to look into having an armed guard at all Warwick schools every minute our kids are there.”

“If we can't get decent roads to drive on we can at least have a little bit of peace sending out children to school,” said Lafontaine.

Asked if she thinks that the armed guards should be in addition to the school resource officers at the middle and high schools Lafontaine said, “In the times we are living in, yes.”

“And people are going to oppose and get political but bottom line is: I would rather have someone who is trained and armed to protect my child then roll the dice and take the chance of having someone shoot the school up with no one equipped (training, weapon, etc) to defend and protect them,” said Lafontaine.

Earlier in the day during a weekly press briefing with Mayor Frank Picozzi, Picozzi said that he received a message  from someone who said that all elementary schools in Warwick should have school resource officers. Currently School Resource officers are stationed at the city’s middle and high schools.

Picozzi told the individual that he didn’t think it would work mainly due to financial constraints.

“I said we don’t have the funds for that it's not budgeted, we don't have the personnel or the resources,” said Picozzi.

Picozzi also noted that Warwick along with other cities and towns don’t have the necessary personnel to have SROS in all of the schools.

“I can barely fill shifts. We could never do that. Call the Governor and tell him to put the National Guard in the schools,” said Picozzi.

Asked if he knew how much it would cost for the remainder of the school year Picozzi said he didn’t but said that all the officers working there would receive time and a half.

“It would cost a fortune,” said Picozzi.

Asked if he would consider the proposal during the next budget cycle Picozzi said that it would cost too much and that the city doesn’t have enough personnel within the police department.

“It's not like I'm not concerned, I have grandchildren in our elementary schools,” said Picozzi


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here