The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Rockbridge County High School faced shooting threat on top of bomb scare Oct. 10

New information uncovered shows that there was a shooting and bomb threat on Oct. 10. School officials have previously mentioned only a bomb threat
Luke Fountain

This story originally aired on the Rockbridge Report.

Washington and Lee isn’t the only local campus to have experienced threats of violence recently. At Rockbridge County High School last month, two threats rankled the student body.

“We had two threats. We had a gun threat and a bomb threat,” RCHS assistant principal Scott Fleshman said.

Some students said the situation was much more chaotic than school officials originally revealed in the days after the bomb threat.

They described how chaos ensued after those threats were called in.

“I was in the cafeteria when it happened, and since we don’t have an intercom system, the teachers were scrambling to find a microphone to notify everyone, and so teachers just started screaming, like, you know, go back to your fourth-period class,” Claire Sigler, an RCHS sophomore, said. “Then an administrator ran by us and was like, ‘Code red,’ like, ‘run.’”

But school officials said their response was calm and organized.

“As far as I know, everybody went into lockdown the way they were supposed to,” RCHS Principal Mike Craft said.

“They did an excellent job. It was amazing how calm they were,” Rockbridge County Schools Superintendent Philip Thompson added.

Students see it differently. Some thought it was a drill, while others thought there was an active shooter. Others were told it was a bomb threat.

The school was planning to do a “code red” drill the following week, spurring confusion.

At first, students barricaded themselves inside their classrooms. They feared an active shooter.

“We got back to our fourth-period class, and by the time we got there, it was like a lockdown drill and so we were barricading the door with desks and stuff,” Sigler said. “Then we had to un-move all of the chairs from blocking the door, and then we evacuated.”

Another problem: RCHS lacks a functional announcement system.

Some students said not having a working PA system made figuring out what was going on harder. The Virginia Department of Education recommends schools have a PA system for security.

“It would have been really helpful in the moment. Teachers were figuring out this information through a group chat on their phones, and when you’re teaching, you’re not checking your text messages,” Sigler said. “It’s important to get the information out quicker.”

School officials said the broken PA system did not slow their response.

“In the cafeteria, the PA system would have nothing to do with it,” Craft said.

Craft said if there had been a working PA system, it would not have broadcast in the cafeteria because it is only connected to telephones there.

Still, some students were afraid to return the next day and said that teachers avoided talking about the incident.

“I didn’t go back to school the next day because I was scared,” Sigler said. “The teachers didn’t really address it. The school didn’t address it the next day and never really did. It felt like it was brushed over and never really happened.”

Law enforcement continues to investigate who made the false threats. At this time, no oversight investigations into the high school’s response have been announced.

Moving forward, school officials say they will be more prepared in the case of another threat. They plan to install a new PA-system by the end of the month.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Ring-tum Phi Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *