Darby Schools were notified Thursday by Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton that the Snapchat threat on Tuesday has been isolated to an individual in California.
Tuesday’s Snapchat referenced an earlier threats and added new threats.
The earlier threat allegedly came from MacLean William Kayser, an 18-year-old Darby senior, who told a group of friends last week that he was “going to shoot up the school,” according to court documents. He was arrested on Monday after students showed authorities Snapchat images linked to a deadly shooting in Florida allegedly from Kayser, at least one of which was labeled “coming soon to Darby.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Kayser remains jailed on felony charges of intimidation and assault with a weapon, which was based on statements from him that “caused reasonable apprehension of causing serious bodily injury.”
Darby Principal J.P. McCrossin said that in separate investigations, both Darby Marshall’s Office and Ravalli County Sheriff’s Department came to the same conclusion about the Snapchat that originated in California.
“We are grateful for their prompt efforts to determine the source of the threat,” McCrossin said in an email to parents Tuesday evening. “The sheriff’s department believes the individual poses no threat to our school. We appreciate everyone’s understanding during this challenging situation. The safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority.”
At Darby school, Thursday morning began with a student assembly for grades 8-12 and students in grades K-7 going to their classes as usual. A continued law enforcement presence remained on campus and the school is offering extra support to any student in need.
Darby Superintendent Loyd Rennaker was scheduled to be at a budget training Thursday, but opted to stay at the school. He said the school has 70 percent attendance, with some families choosing to keep their children at home “hoping everything will settle down,” he said.
Rennaker said that on Wednesday, “a large majority of our high school students were checked out, and about 40 percent of the elementary went home.”
A community meeting was held at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Darby School Junior High gym regarding this week’s shooting threats. It was an informational meeting, with law enforcement and school administrators on hand to explain what happened and answer questions.
Nearly 100 concerned Darby community members had a range of questions for law enforcement and school administrators. They wanted to know how long law enforcement will be in the school, how they found the suspects, and what kind of punishment anyone found guilt of making threats would face.
People also asked whether the person who possibly made Tuesday’s threats from California had any local connections. They asked also about the type of training school staff has, and expressed their gratitude to the teachers and other school professionals. One parent also inquired about getting a school resource officer.
Rennaker thanked them for the comments, saying he couldn’t make any promises about their concerns, but that he was taking notes to see what he could address.
He praised the students who brought information forward and encourages them to continue.
Holton reported that the investigation is ongoing to identify the California suspect and confirm the Snapchat posts’ location.
“The investigation into the identity of the suspect is continuing with help from out-of-state law enforcement agencies,” Holton said.
He encourages anyone who has received or notices threats of potential violence to notify the Sheriff’s Office immediately.