Students return to calm Gateway Charter campus after school threat

Days after deputies swarmed a charter school in Southwest Florida due to a text threat, things began to return to normal.

Students at the campus for Gateway Intermediate Charter School & Charter High School (grades 6-12) in Lee County watched as their parents stood outside for hours worried this past Friday.

There is a question about what left many students scared and confused, and we still don’t have an answer.

The school said extra security would be on hand Monday, which is exactly what Gateway Charter 6th grader Steven Alvarez needed.

“Just normal classwork, really just a normal day at school,” Alvarez said.

The school said deputies took two suspects into custody Friday. Lee County Sheriff’s Office did not answer our questions directly but did share a statement. A spokesperson said deputies assessed the situation, addressed any possible threats and kept students sheltered in place until they deemed the school campus safe again.

“We had to stay in the classroom for exactly like three hours and 20 minutes,” said Alvarez, who explained it was exhausting.

Kids had the option talk to counselors about the aftermath of the text message threat, but it can be a difficult conversation for kids and parents alike.

“I didn’t really want to talk about it,” Alvarez said.

“I was kind of scared to send them today,’ parent Karen Delacruz said. “But then I came, and I saw all the police, and I saw everybody. And so I was like, ‘OK, well, you know, I feel better about it.’”

The calm didn’t answer any questions.

“So that’s only thing,” Delacruz said. “I was kind of wondering like, ‘What’s going on?’”

Still, it did create some space.

“We just watched movies, so everyone could calm down a little bit,” Alvarez said. “That’s really all.”

School district statement

Threats, of any kind, are not taken lightly. The safety and security of Lee County students, school staff and our educational facilities is our top priority. We will devote any and all resources to address a threat in our schools. That is exactly what we did last Friday at Gateway Charter High School.

The resources and assets that were devoted to the school threat can appear alarming. Our main goal was to assess the situation and address any possible threats. This included keeping the students sheltered in place until the scene was deemed safe and they could be released to a parent.

Our investigators are conducting a thorough investigation. This includes interviewing several subjects that were on scene. Our investigation remains active and we will issue additional information as it becomes available.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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