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Police: No Exeter High School hit list; report unfounded

Union Leader Correspondent

February 23. 2018 6:46AM
In a message to parents, Exeter Assistant Superintendent Esther Asbell said the school administration learned about the alleged “hit list” late Thursday afternoon. (Jason Schreiber/Correspondent)

EXETER — Authorities have determined a report of an alleged hit list involving a student at Exeter High School was unfounded.

Police said administrators at the school reported Thursday afternoon that a faculty member overheard an unidentified student talking about another student with an alleged hit list.

Police said they interviewed multiple students Thursday night, including the accused student, whose family was fully cooperative.

Officers searched their home, computers, cellphones and other areas where a note would be kept or written.

No hit list or similar evidence was found, police said.

Assistant Superintendent Esther Asbell issued a message to the school community early Friday morning explaining that police did not find a hit list and they determined that there is “no credible threat to any students, teachers or staff in SAU 16.”

“We continue to keep safety and security a top priority in all of our schools,” she said.

Asbell had sent a message to parents earlier Thursday night informing them that an investigation into the allegation was under way and that the school was taking the threat “very seriously.”

The investigation came nearly a week after a 16-year-old Hampton boy was charged with criminal threatening at another school in town.

In that incident, police said they began investigating after receiving reports that a boy told friends he was “going to shoot up” the Seacoast School of Technology in Exeter, which is also part of School Administrative Unit 16.

Authorities investigated a second student who allegedly was “seriously involved in threatening behavior” at SST that was directly related to the first alleged SST shooting threat.

Interim SAU 16 Superintendent Christine Rath wrote a letter to parents and the school community on Wednesday about various concerns and the steps the administration has taken to address safety, security and mental-health issues.

She mentioned the challenging times facing schools, especially in the wake of last week’s deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.

“In SAU 16 we have had our own challenges this winter — first with the report of a threatening act at our middle school and then with the threatening behavior by two students at the Seacoast School of Technology. In the context of these disturbing events, we have heard from many of you and we appreciate your feedback, your concerns, and your questions about what we are doing to ensure that our schools are safe places of learning. We also value your suggestions about what we could do better,” she wrote in the letter.

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