Was teacher's 'guns' message a threat? Lake Station, Ind. police investigate

March 4, 2013 8:18:12 PM PST
An Edison High School teacher is in hot water after writing a message about guns on a chalkboard.

Lake Station, Ind., police say the teacher will only be charged if the message is considered a threat.

Students took photographs of the message at Edison Junior-Senior High School:

A) You are idiots!!!!!!!!
B) The guns are loaded!!!
C) Care to try me ?????????

Students say the veteran business teacher wrote the message after having what they described as a "meltdown."

"I was shocked. I didn't know what to say," said student Jocelyne Chavez. Chavez said the message was directed at her sixth period class in response to a report he received from a substitute teacher after being gone for a few days.

"A lot of people were messing around with the sub," Chavez said.

The teacher, who admitted to writing the message, was asked to leave, and will not return to school until an internal investigation is concluded.

"We are working hand in hand with Lake County prosecutor's office to see if criminal charges may proceed," said Lake Station Police Chief Kevin Garber. "Any kind of threat, especially a threat with a weapon or words of a weapon, may be a criminal act, and that's what we're looking at."

Police said the teacher will be charged if they determine the message was a threat. At this point, officials are shying away from calling it that.

"He expressed deep sorrow to principal on Friday that it caused such a problem for the school," said Lake Station Indiana District Schools Supt. Dan DeHaven.

Reaction is mixed as to whether the teacher should be disciplined, and to what extent if so.

"I guess knowing him because I came here, that is his personality so it doesn't bother me, but it might bother others," said Maria Jiminez, parent and former student.

"It's a regular thing," said student Mason Baldzo. "Didn't surprise me it happened."

School officials say the teacher, who has worked in the district for 28 years, has never been disciplined before and that the safety of the students come first.

A community meeting held Monday night at the school brought arguments against the teacher, as well as those defending the 28-year veteran of the Lake Station school system.

"I don't think he should be allowed back into the school ever," said parent Leigh Ellis.

Even his defenders admit the message written on the chalkboard last week was inappropriate.

"In a school environment of today you cannot use the word 'gun,'" said DeHaven on Monday night. "It just polarizes and quickly puts us in a situation where we're on the defensive."

Monday night's meeting was scheduled after an outcry from parents and students.

"We owe it to our students to rule out the possibility that there's any hint of violence coming or there could be violence," DeHaven said.