Staff at Portsmouth City School District is encouraging students to speak up when they hear about possible threats made toward the school, staff, or other students. This comes after an incident that occurred during a high school basketball game between Portsmouth and Minford on Feb. 17, 2023, in which the facility was evacuated following an online threat.
“I told the students they have a responsibility to keep each other safe because they are going to hear about this long before any adult does. Come tell an adult. Tell a teacher you have a good relationship with. Tell me. Tell someone and we’ll do what we can to stop this so it doesn’t become an issue. We are at the point where you could be saving someone’s life,” said High School Principal Doug Poage.
The online post was allegedly made several days before the game and reportedly threatened a violent altercation would occur at the game between the poster and another individual, neither of whom are a student at Portsmouth or Minford schools.
Upon learning of the threat during the game, both teams were locked down in their locker rooms. Poage approached the announcer’s booth to order an evacuation, but by that time word had already spread throughout the gymnasium and people had already begun to evacuate.
“The second we found out, we went into action. We wanted to make sure everybody was safe,” Poage said.
School administrators located and searched the individuals who were believed to have posted the comments. The facility was searched by members of the Portsmouth Police Department, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, and Portsmouth City Schools. No injuries were reported and no weapons were found.
“Nobody reported seeing a weapon at any time,” Poage said.
After the incident, multiple students reportedly told Portsmouth staff that they were aware of the online comments but did not report them before the game. Poage warned students that this could have ended very differently, and next time students should immediately alert staff, parents, or law enforcement if they are aware of any threats being made. Students are also encouraged to report threats such as this to the anonymous tip line by calling or texting 877-723-3764.
“If they had reported this earlier and they knew the people involved, they never would have been let into the game. We are in a day and age where you have to take anything like this seriously,” Poage said.
In the meantime, Poage said the district is reviewing its security procedures to determine what might be done to prevent this from ever happening again.
The incident remains under investigation by law enforcement.
For more information about Portsmouth City Schools, visit them online at www.portsmouthtrojans.net, or follow the school’s page on Facebook.