Separate Incidents May Have Spurred School Lockdown and Arrest

Knox Elementary SchoolAn incident that locked down Knox Community Elementary School may not have been the same incident that led to the arrest of a 20-year-old Knox man.

Police were called to the area of 1 Redskin Trail around 7:45 Tuesday morning over reports of a man making threats to harm individuals at Knox Community High School.

Evidence reviewed by WKVI News allegedly shows an “emoticon” of a handgun in the string of messages left by 20-year-old Paul Esparza on social media. He allegedly claimed in the posts that he was attacked by several individuals who stole money from him. He also indicated there may be retaliation.

Knox Community Schools Superintendent A.J. Gappa says he thinks the High School incident was exclusive to that location.

“I think the administrators and staff in that building followed proper procedure and did everything that we could ask them to do,” says Gappa.

According to a press release from Knox City Police, Esparza was located near the school, but a search of his person revealed no firearm. An investigation also revealed Esparza had entered the High School and was escorted out on two occasions before police were notified.

He was arrested on preliminary charges of Trespassing and Intimidation after investigators learned he was allegedly getting into arguments with individuals at the scene.

“I think people have confused the two issues into one,” says Gappa. “Where: we really had two different circumstances going on.”

That’s because some time after the initial incident on Tuesday morning, a separate message – with misspellings – appeared on social media that declared a man with a gun was on Culver Road near Knox Community Elementary School.

That message found its way to a teacher who sent the message up the ladder until the Elementary School was placed on lockdown.

“The Principal of the building found out from City Police that the person that they thought was in question was already in custody, and therefore that procedure ended within about 10 minutes,” says Gappa.

WKVI News contacted Knox Police Chief Clint Norem, who advised their report had not been completed, but that officers had not been made aware of the second Facebook message. Norem did not want to speculate on whether the second message was the cause of the lockdown.

“I don’t have knowledge of that,” says Norem.

Gappa said he had no comment when asked if Knox Community Schools were encouraging Police to follow-up on the second Facebook message.

Knox Community School Corporation utilizes a program called SchoolMessenger to help alert parents to potential emergency situations at their schools. Gappa says he believes parents have a right to know what’s going on at the schools, but says it’s difficult to explain complex situations in text message form.

A meeting was held Wednesday morning with School Principals to discuss the situation on Tuesday and review what could have been done differently.