Monday, May 15, 2006

Rumours: A 6/6/06 Fable

By Chris Keegan - The Sun Staff

WOOD RIVER JCT. - Rumblings of a threat set to occur at Chariho schools on June 6 are the product of a "rumor mill," regional school officials said Wednesday.

During a morning press conference at Superintendent Barry J. Ricci's Switch Road office, district officials spoke candidly about the rumors in an effort to ease tension among parents and students.

The rumors revolve around a potential threat that could happen on the sixth day of June - a date that, when written as 6/6/06, indicates the number "666," a numeral associated with Satanic worship and the Antichrist.

About a month ago, Ricci said a parent contacted a social worker at the school campus with concerns that her child was having thoughts about demons and the meaning of the date.

"The call had nothing to do with violence, a gun or weapons," he said. "...The concerns were about the date and the fact that these elements might somehow appear in school."

But in the weeks that followed, Ricci said the rumors began to take on a life of their own. They began to involve firearms and stories that students could possibly do harm to themselves at school, he said.

Some high school students told The Sun on Tuesday that they thought the threat could potentially involve a bomb.

"It's gotten to the point where we need to clarify what's going on," Ricci said.

Ricci said all of the accounts, which first originated at Chariho High School, were investigated by administrators and by the Richmond Police Department. Student Resource Officer Jeff Vaughn - who is a Richmond patrolman - interviewed 17 high and middle school students related to concerns voiced by parents.

To date, not one rumor has been corroborated and no specific threats have been made, Ricci said.

"There has been no threat to a building or to staff that has been found to be credible," he said.

The Antichrist, by Lucas Cranach the Elder - 1521. During the time Cranach was under protestant Lutheran influence and therefore portrayed the Antichrist with the papal tiara.
The Antichrist, by Lucas Cranach the Elder - 1521. During the time Cranach was under protestant Lutheran influence and therefore portrayed the Antichrist with the papal tiara. From Wikipedia

On Tuesday morning, first-period teachers at both Chariho Middle School and the high school read a statement to students addressing the rumors.

"Our school is committed to keeping all students and staff safe everyday," the statement reads. "Unfortunately, there have been rumors that might make students and staff feel unsafe. It is important that you know that these are simply rumors; there has been no threat to anyone's safety. Working with the police, we have investigated the rumors and will continue to investigate new information."

"If you have specific concerns or information, you should immediately report these to a trusted adult at school. In this way, you will be helping to keep our school safe for all."

High School Principal Robert A. Mitchell said the significance of June 6 is analogous to the hysteria that surrounds Adolf Hitler's birthday or the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting tragedy.

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