Rifle students cited for rumor of drive-by
Glenwood Springs correspondent
RIFLE ” Two girls received tickets after the start of a rumor that there would be a drive-by shooting Monday at Rifle Middle School.
School Principal Susan Birdsey called the police and brought a group of students inside for recess at 11:50 a.m., as soon as she heard the rumor that there could be violence at the school at noon.
The rumor was that there would be a walkout at noon and at that time someone would drive by and shoot out the windows of the school, Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner said.
“In our investigation, it became clear that there was no credibility to the rumors,” Meisner said.
A 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl were ticketed for interfering with an educational institution.
“It’s not the most heinous offense in the world,” Meisner said. “But it does have consequences.”
Rumors keep Birdsey busy, but they don’t usually send her to the police.
“This is middle school. There are a lot of rumors,” Birdsey said. “This one was not more significant, just more violent in nature. If someone threatens the safety of my kids, I’m going to call the police.”
Birdsey heard the rumor after a student told a teacher about it.
“That’s great,” Birdsey said. “That’s the direction we want them to go. Unfortunately, rumors are like playing a big game of telephone and as it passes from one person to the next it gets bigger and bigger.”
Birdsey sent a letter home to parents on Tuesday to let them know what happened, and teachers talked with students about rumors during the day.
Monday was a national day of protest for immigrant rights, and attendance was low at schools throughout the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys. At Rifle Middle, 31 percent of the student body was absent, one of the largest absentee numbers in Garfield School District Re-2.
“I don’t believe [the rumor] was racially motivated,” Birdsey said.
Meisner agreed. He said there was no apparent connection between the day of protest and the rumor.
There was no walkout at the school, nor was there one scheduled.
“I’m worried this might seem bigger than it was,” Birdsey said. “I don’t want parents to feel scared about their kids.”
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