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Former Student Facing Criminal Charge Following PHS Incident

By: News Email
By: News Email
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UPDATE 11/20/2013 5:25 PM

A text message involving a gun puts Parkersburg High School on lock down.

Now a former student faces a criminal charge in Wood County.

The lock down ended before noon and a teenager turned himself into police.

He's a former Parkersburg High School Student.

He's Jonathan Michael Loncala and he appeared in Wood County Magistrate Court Wednesday afternoon on a misdemeanor charge of sending a threat by cell phone.

Police were alerted to the situation after a student notified school officials of a text he received, from another student who said he had a gun.

"It was that thought immediately ... the police department ... the initial thought was the student had been in the parking lot ... and police were dispatched to the parking lot ... the building was immediately put on lock down,"" says Assistant Superintendent Mike Fling. "Once they secured that area they came inside and began to sweep the area ... each class room in the building as well ... all the while collecting information ... that more credible information that we could put information together."

It's believed there was a dispute between the two students.

The lock down was lifted shortly before 11 Wednesday morning.

Both police and school officials say that at no time was there a gun inside the school.


This, of course did not turn out to be another Columbine or Sandy Hook.

But, at least at first, responders have to treat it like it is that serious.

Parkersburg Police will be evaluating their response to this threat, as will school officials.

But both say they were pleased with how Wednesday morning's situation was handled.

Parkersburg Police say, for them, every situation like this is a training moment in the event something a lot worse happens in the future.

But they add that, whenever they are sent to handle something like this, they always expect the worst.

"As we discover what the problem is, we will take a step back and back our response down and what we need to do," says Parkersburg Police Sgt. Greg Collins. "But there will never be a time when we don't take something seriously at one of our schools, because people count on us to protect their children and the staff at that school."

The school received calls Wednesday from parents wanting to take their kids home.

The police and the school system both say that's not a good idea, saying that could lead to more safety concerns.

In addition to the lock down at PHS, Wood County Schools Assistant Superintendent Mike Fling says students from the school having classes at the Wood County Technical Center and the Caperton Center also remained there until the lock down was lifted.


UPDATE 12:40pm

Jonathan Michael Loncala, An 18 year old former student, faces a misdemeanor charge from today's lock down at Parkersburg High School.

Describing it as "teenage drama," Parkersburg Police Sgt. Greg Collins says it all started as a texting argument. Sgt. Collins says Loncala texted a picture of a gun to a student at the school.
A student at the high school then told administrators, and PHS went on lock down.

Investigators and school officials say at no point was there a gun inside the school. Students texted their parents about what was happening, and tweeted about it on social media. PHS did send an automated phone message to parents about the lock down.

PHS went on lock down at about 10am. About thirty minutes later, Loncala contacted police and surrendered at police headquarters. He was interviewed about what happened, and temporarily released to his father, while a criminal complaint was drafted. However, Loncala left his father's care, prompting the PHS to go back on lock down for a few minutes.

Loncala faces a misdemeanor charge and appeared in Wood County Magistrate Court Wednesday afternoon. We will have more details about who he is and the charges he faces throughout the day.

Also, watch Sgt. Greg Collins interview from WTAP News at NOON. It is posted on the homepage about the response and investigation.


UPDATE: 10:50am

The individual turns himself in to Parkersburg Police. He is an 18 year old former student.

Police say it started as a series of texts between that former student and current students. When that happened is unclear. In those texts the former student sent a picture of a gun. Police still do not know in what context it was sent.

Police say the student then visited PHS Wednesday morning, but never went inside. Witnesses say that no gun was seen.

Police will continue to interview the individual and witnesses.

Its unclear if there will be any charges at this point.


UPDATE 10:39
A law enforcement source close to the PHS lock down tells WTAP News a person connected to the lock down agreed to turn himself in at police headquarters.

The school remains locked down. We have reporters at the high school and police station, and will have the latest here on the web and on WTAP throughout the morning.


Parkersburg High School is on lock down, according to police and school officials.

Mike Fling with Wood County Schools tells WTAP News there is no report of a man with a gun, but police and school officials are looking for a person connected to this morning's lock down.

Parkersburg Police Sgt. Greg Collins says authorities are on scene investigating a report of a man with a gun.

The school secretary says students are locked inside classrooms and board of education members are at the school.

We have a reporter on the scene and we will bring you more information as it becomes available.


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