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#childsafety | Laredo’s United Independent School District has had multiple school threats after school shooting in Uvalde

Just one day after the tragedy in Uvalde at the hands of a domestic terrorist, UISD has been mired by threats and pranks that included a Thursday morning threat at a UISD middle school. UISD indicated that two arrests would be made in two separate cases.

According to the district, the UISD Police Department and the district were made aware of a social media threat made by a George Washington Middle School student Thursday morning. The UISD PD investigated the case and announced that the county attorney permitted the arrest of the male student who posted the threat. This followed two threats made on Wednesday.

In regard to one Wednesday case, a student was found to have made a list of possible predictions of harmful outcomes for students and teachers, akin to a popular anime series. It listed 13 students and two adults; when asked about it, she said that she was pretending to be the anime series’ character.

UISD Police Chief Ray Garner said that an arrest was unlikely against the student. He said that the female United High School student was playing a dangerous game amid the heightened alert level of law enforcement officers, but evidence and the county attorney did not point to a credible threat.

That same day, a male student at United South Middle School said that he would bring a gun to school. When campus administrators were made aware of the situation, they and UISD PD investigated the matter, determined there was no imminent threat to the campus, arrested the student and transported him to the Webb County Juvenile Detention Center.

Also, while not a threat, the district informed the media about a cruel prank on a teacher who did not speak English and is being investigated by administrative staff. The situation took place at Lamar Bruni Vergara, where students told the teacher to hold a sign for a sick student as they took a picture of her to send it to them. The sign read “I love you (Uvalde shooter)” with her unaware of what she was holding.

“Again, students don’t realize the danger of what they are placing themselves in and we need to be — the parents need to help out,” Garner said.

Garner repeatedly emphasized the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s lives and their remarks on social media. He said that students need to understand that threats, and arrests will affect their future — meaning that scholarships and grant opportunities would be absent if convicted. Depending on ages, parents would also see their child being arrested and taken to the juvenile center or the Webb County Jail.

Regardless, he made sure to outline the safety precautions and measures the district has taken to keep students safe. From locked entrances only accessible with key card access and magnetic strips to lock and unlock doors and a monitoring station providing surveillance at all campuses, Gardner said that there are multiple measures taking place year-round.

Furthermore, cooperation between UISD PD and the different law enforcement agencies in the county allow for rapid response to emergency situations, as well as yearly training for officers, specifically in mock intruder scenarios.

“If we do have something, I pray to God we don’t, but if we do have something happen at the school, any school, we can have over 500 officers there within minutes. My team will be there on the campus and will engage whatever threat is in there,” Garner said. “I’ve said this several times: parents need to be responsible with their children. They are responsible for their children, but they need to check those social media websites, they need to sit down and talk to their children.”

As social media has played a role in a number of cases involving threats in schools, Garner warned that when a student or adult sends threats through social media, even if they are not the original author, they can be criminally charged with dissemination of the threat. In the event of a student, parent or adult seeing a threat online, they must call Laredo Police Department, UISD PD or the Webb County Sheriff’s Office and not share the threat online, as they would be an author of the threat.

“This is no joke,” he said.

As the school year comes to a close, Garner said that there will be an increased police presence at the campuses and during the high school graduations. The arena will also be checking bags and enforcing their clear bag policy during the ceremony to layer safety measures.

He added that UISD is one of the only districts to have police officers at elementary campuses and explained that high schools have three to four officers, ninth-grade campuses have one, middle schools have two and elementary have one — all with the additional support of the security staff.

Amid the press conference, Garner was asked if he believed, in his expertise and leadership role, if arming teachers would help the safety of students.

“We have armed officers at every school,” Garner said. “I don’t need armed teachers because if something is going on, I have officers from different schools, I have Laredo PD, Webb County deputies, Border Patrol and DPS. They are going to be going into that school and they won’t know the teacher.”

Beyond that, he acknowledged that he is a proponent and protector of the second amendment but acknowledged that there needs to be changes.

“Just like the fourth amendment, referencing to privacy; a lot of amendments have had a lot of additions to them,” Garner said. “I think we need to have real strict enforcement of the background, and I don’t think an 18 year old should be allowed to purchase a rifle assault weapon — wait until they’re 21. But yeah, we need to do something about the second amendment.

“I’ve got guns at my house and got them stored. I am not a gun fan, but I have to carry one because I’m a police officer, but there’s got to be some changes.”

UISD Director of Discipline Anette Perez said that administrative action is also taken to students in conjunction to the criminal justice process. This could include sending students to alternative schools among other options such as expulsion, regardless of if they are arrested or not.

Soon after the district became aware of the threats made, they sent out letters to USMS and UHS parents. It warned of disciplinary action for students found to be making threats and reiterated Garner’s call to parents.

“It is important that you take the time to talk to your child about such actions and encourage them to report any safety concerns to you, a trusted adult, campus administration or United ISD Police Department,” she wrote. “Additionally, encourage your child to avoid posting such content on social media. If you or your child do not feel comfortable talking to a campus administrator or police, reports of threats, bullying or safety concerns can be made anonymously through the District’s website at or by calling 956-727-TIPS (8477).

“Once again, the safety of all of our students is of the utmost importance.”

Lastly, according to the district, the press conference made way for the first look at the UISD PD surveillance center that showed the eye-in-the-sky perspective they have on all campuses. Law enforcement staff were seen monitoring all the schools and UISD facilities on dozens of live feeds and screens on the wall.

Furthermore, Garner said that staff has contact with local law enforcement officers at a flip of a switch while they also review and monitor news outlets throughout the city and state to keep up to date.

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