GRANGEVILLE – Grangeville Elementary Middle School (GEMS) went on partial lockdown last week due to an alleged threatening incident that resulted in a misdemeanor charge for a local man.
Troy E. Benefield, 50, is set for arraignment next Tuesday, Jan. 28, in magistrate court on a charge of threatening violence on school grounds.
The incident was reported during school hours last Monday, Jan. 13, at GEMS. According to court documents, Benefield walked onto the GEMS playground while children were present and asked a staff member to be let through the locked northwest doors as his wife worked inside the school. When he was told he needed to go through the front office doors, Benefield is alleged to have shouted, “Why would you lock these doors? If I had a gun and wanted to shoot all these kids they would have nowhere to escape.” The staff member told Benefield the doors were locked for safety, and he is alleged to have shouted, “Why? If I had a gun I could just shoot the lock off and go in.”
Dispatched to the incident at 1:55 p.m., Grangeville Police Officer Paul Orgish later met with Benefield concerning the alleged incident, to which Benefield denied that he had made these statements.
Following report of the incident, Mt. View School District 244 Superintendent Kent Stokes said police were contacted and the school was placed on alert for the remainder of the school day. In general, that procedure involved increased vigilance by staff and additional locked doors.
“Anytime we have a concern we call the police,” Stokes said, adding that Police Chief Morgan Drew has been very good to work with concerning recommendations for school safety procedures.
“Our number one job is safety,” Stokes said. “Every parent wants their kids to come home the same way they sent them to school, and we’re pretty serious about that job.”