116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WACO High School Principal Tim Bartels watched as the visiting Cardinal volleyball team started warmups for the 7:30 p.m. match with WACO Thursday.
The WACO team was still in the locker room.
A coach called from the football field. A threat had been made against a woman at the school, a threat involving a gun.
The Henry County sheriff was called at 6:30 p.m. and was responding along with the Wayland police chief, Mt. Pleasant police, Washington County sheriff’s deputies and the Iowa State Patrol.
It was “a credible threat on her life,” WACO schools Superintendent Ken Crawford said Friday morning.
A Henry County sheriff’s sergeant at the scene Thursday evening said law enforcement learned of “a threat involving a gun.” The threat was directed to a person at the school but not somebody attending the volleyball game, the sergeant said.
Bartels first thought was clearing the school, not an easy task. There were a couple of football practices underway. The fifth- and sixth-grade volleyball team was practicing in another gym. The junior high school volleyball and high school cross-teams were on buses pulling up to the high school after competitions. The junior varsity volleyball game had just concluded.
And there was the volleyball game about an hour away, the stands slowly filling with spectators.
“Everybody did a great job of clearing out,” Bartels said. “The way everybody stepped up was really impressive.”
Within 20 minutes, the school was emptied and staff had checked that all doors were locked. Students, after being accounted for, were taken to a safe location away from the school.
No one was injured and the person suspected of making the threat did not make it to the school before being arrested in Washington County.
Friday morning, classes resumed at the school building in the north Henry County town of Wayland where junior and senior high students attend classes. A police officer was present there and at the district’s elementary school in Crawfordsville.
“We’re just trying to make sure everyone is safe,” Crawford said, adding the threat was not against WACO.
“Each campus for WACO schools is safe and back to school,“ the superintendent said in a statement. “We are thankful for the quick reaction of our administrative team and all the various police forces, which worked as a team to remove all students and community members to a safe location.”
Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee said the 6:30 p.m. call his office received Thursday said a subject was heading to the WACO school property “after threatening to harm another individual.”
“A short time later the suspect that caused the alarm was apprehended in Washington County,” McNamee said in his statement.
The suspect was not named by the Henry County sheriff. “Washington County Sheriff’s Office continued the investigation regarding the individual,” the statement said.