The happy excitement of students and staff celebrating the last day of classes before a two week Christmas break quickly turned to nervous apprehension when McCreary Central High School briefly went into lockdown on Friday (December 17, 2021) due to a report of an unauthorized visitor in the building. As a result of the report, a fourteen year old former student, who allegedly came to school to hang out with friends, was located quickly. School officials collaborated with law enforcement and determined there was no threat or weapon. The former student was escorted from school premises by law enforcement.
According to a release on the McCreary County School District Facebook page, McCreary Central High School was on restricted movement for a time during first period while investigating the report. Once the report was confirmed, the school went into full lockdown for a brief time. After the incident was resolved, a couple of large group school events were cancelled, but otherwise the school resumed normal schedule for the remainder of the day.
Earlier in the week, threats concerning the possibility of nationwide school violence occurring on Friday, December 17 surfaced via a challenge made on the TikTok social media platform. The timing of Friday morning’s incident at the high school heightened community concerns; however, officials found no connection between the incident and the TikTok social media challenge.
According to a statement released by McCreary County Sheriff Randy Waters, he received a call at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Friday notifying him that an unauthorized person was inside McCreary Central High School and the school was in lockdown. Waters said his office was unsure if the threat was valid but did not want to take chances with student safety, especially with the nationwide school violence challenge circulating through TikTok social media. Sheriff Waters, Chief Deputy Tom Smith, Deputy Dustin Ridner, and Deputy Stephen McKinney (who is also the McCreary County Emergency Management Director) responded immediately to McCreary Central. Once there, Sheriff Waters made contact with a Kentucky State Police officer who had initially arrived to do a routine walk-through in the school building. Sheriff Waters also confirmed with Special Law Enforcement (School) Officer (SLEO) Bill Tucker that the unauthorized visitor was in his custody.
In his statement, Waters noted the Sheriff’s Department had already made plans for extra school patrol on Friday after being asked to do so by Superintendent Keith.
“The McCreary County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to responding to any calls we receive, working efficiently as a team with all Law Enforcement Agencies and the schools, to protect and keep our kids safe,” Sheriff Waters stated.
Kentucky State Police, McCreary County Sheriff’s Department, and Special Law (School) Enforcement Officers responded and assisted school officials with the incident.