School shootings: Early reporting may stop emotional crisis from escalating to violence

Colleen O'Connor, Denver Post Updated: December 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm • Published: December 24, 2013 0

Since the beginning of this school year, reports of 16 planned attacks — that someone had a hit list or was coming to school with a gun — were made to Safe2Tell, the anonymous hotline where people can report threats against themselves or others.

In 2012, 42 planned school attacks were received, more than half in December after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Since Safe2Tell was created in Colorado at the suggestion of the Columbine Commission in 2004, the hotline has received 282 reports of planned school attacks. All were investigated by law enforcement and school officials: 251 were classified as high-risk threats, and 31 were called very high risk — prevented just in time.

"Explosives, hit list, plans — everything was ready to go," executive director Susan Payne said.

Early reporting of concerning behavior saved lives, Payne said.

No one called Safe2Tell to report that Karl Pierson, 18, planned to attack Arapahoe High School before he opened fire in the school Dec. 13, killing 17-year-old Claire Davis before turning his legally acquired shotgun on himself, Payne said.

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