Schools in Aspen, the valley locked down | AspenTimes.com

Schools in Aspen, the valley locked down

School campuses throughout the Roaring Fork Valley were locked down for approximately 90 minutes Thursday in response to a perceived threat made to a 911 dispatch operator in Garfield County at approximately midnight Wednesday.

Further analysis of the phone call by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation determined that the message was not a threat, or lacked the substance to be taken seriously, said Ron Ryan, an investigator with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Before the CBI’s conclusion, which local law enforcement officials received at approximately 10:15 a.m., Aspen school officials were made aware of the perceived threat Thursday morning before school started. Officials later decided to lock down the three campuses, as deputies and officers from the Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office monitored the situation.

“There were some words said that were not the words we originally thought they were,” Ryan said.

From 9:30-11 a.m., students and staff at Aspen’s elementary, middle and high schools were kept inside the school buildings as a precautionary measure. No one was allowed to enter or exit the campuses during the lockdown.

A similar scenario played out at Basalt’s three public schools, where a modified lockdown was conducted – meaning nobody could leave, and entrants were screened by law enforcement officials, said Basalt police Sgt. Penny Paxton. Schools in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs were also locked down, the Post Independent reported.

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Aspen School District Superintendent John Maloy e-mailed students’ parents to keep them apprised of the situation.

“Although there was not a direct threat made toward one of the Aspen schools, the district, in partnership with Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department and the Aspen Police Department, took precautions … doors were secured, hallways were monitored, and the campus entrances and exits were patrolled during the lockdown,” his e-mail said.

In a subsequent e-mail to parents, Maloy said that “students, faculty and staff were not placed in harm’s way this morning as a direct threat was not made directly toward any of the Aspen schools.”

He also noted that “had a direct or real threat been made toward an Aspen school, the district’s and local authorities’ responses and communication to parents and the public would have looked very different.”

Ryan said parents should rest assured their children were safe.

“I have four kids [at the Aspen School District campuses] and I wasn’t worried,” he said.

Paxton said the measure was simply a precautionary one.

“When anybody threatens the school safety it has to be taken seriously,” she said, “and everybody did an outstanding job.”

rcarroll@aspentimes.com