BILLINGS - The day at two Billings high schools went on as normal despite a cloud of threats on Wednesday.
At Billings Senior High, one student was arrested after a threat was discovered inside a boys' bathroom stall. At Billings West, thousands of students were absent after two threats over the past two weeks— which the district said were unsubstantiated— promised violence on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
No violence was reported, but parents still felt the fear and kept their kids out of school.
The threat at Senior led to an arrest on an intimidation charge. The school resource officer and the school administration acted quickly to find that student early Wednesday afternoon.
After three school threats, much was occupying the mind of Superintendent Greg Upham this week.
"We take every one of them seriously and we follow them to the nth degree," Upham said.
The threat against Senior was discovered around 12:30 p.m. and threatened a school shooting Thursday.
Upham said a school resource officer quickly determined who posted the message by using school surveillance video
"We look at what time it was posted," he said. "We look at our surveillance. Who was in the bathroom at the time? When did it come out into time? Who is the originator of sending the messages, and so that's where you start."
He says police arrested a sophomore male student.
"I'm not specific to the internal components to that," Upham said. "But they feel that the individual that they have at least is a person who sent the posts. As far as the originator of the post, I believe they're confident. I just can't speak to it directly."
At West High, the first threat came last week after a hate symbol was drawn in a restroom stall. Then on Tuesday, a second scrawl in the stall of a girls restroom hinted at a shooting at the school.
The superintendent says about 1,300-1,350 out of 2,280 West students, or close to 60%, chose not to go to school on Wednesday.
"It's very similar to what we had at West," Upham said as he compared the Senior threat to the West threat. "That threat was a school shooting that was to occur on Dec. 7, which was located the week before and so very similar."
Some of the posts on Facebook state "they need to know that this is serious" and my kids aren't going to school tomorrow."
Upham said the threat mentioned this would happen on Thursday.
And with the person responsible arrested he doesn't believe Senior students will skip school.
"But every family and every individual handles this differently," he said. "But I feel safe that school is open tomorrow and will run appropriately and we'll just keep working through this one day at a time."