DALTON- The Cheyenne County area has been quite fortunate to not have suffered a traumatic school shooting incident like much of the country has had to endure over the past few years. According to Education Week there were 38 school shootings in 2023, down from a high of 51 in 2022, so even a high-trust and relatively safe rural community like the Dalton and Gurley areas are not immune from a national problem with tragic consequences. Attention must be paid to any indicators that show an incident is being planned, no matter how unlikely the chances are that a peaceful rural area could have such a tragedy take place, which is why an incident that happened in the Leyton Public School system on January 18 was immediately investigated by the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Office and the Leyton Public School District. It involved a youth with previous disciplinary issues that is known by the Sheriff’s Department.
According to Cheyenne County Sheriff Adam Frerichs, the youth responded to a disciplinary action by allegedly making a comment to the effect of “This is why people shoot up schools.” This comment was overheard by a Leyton Public School employee and the youth was confronted about it by school officials shortly thereafter. The youth assumed it was a classmate who had informed the school about the alleged comment, and proceeded to threaten that student. It turned out that the other student had no involvement in the reporting of the comment.
After law enforcement interviewed staff and students who witnessed the event, they met with the parents of the student that allegedly made the threat as well as the parents of the student who was threatened. It was learned that the youth that made the alleged comment has no access to firearms. The student who made the alleged threat has been barred from entering the Leyton schools. There has been no information as to when the student will be allowed to go back to school, at this time.Members of the Dalton and Gurley communities were understandably upset over the incident and, not knowing all of the details, some rumors and incorrect information started to circulate among residents. What is known is that the threat allegedly involved a comment, there was a misunderstanding about who reported the comment which led to a threat of violence on another student, and that the parents of all the students involved, school officials and law enforcement quickly assessed the situation and acted accordingly to de-escalate the situation. It is apparent that although the alleged threat to the school was just verbal, school officials and the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Department acted accordingly in their response to the incident.