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La Crosse police have apologized for a lack of communication during a false alarm Tuesday that led to a lockdown at a day care.

About 10:30 a.m., police investigated a report that a man was overheard asking his coworkers whether they had “thought about shooting up a school or workplace,” according to the La Crosse Police Department, which described the information as “vague at best.”

An officer then went to the YWCA Child Care at Western Technical College, where it was believed the man’s child might attend day care.

The child did not attend the center, but a staff member then locked down the facility and notified parents of a potential threat, according to police.

Emails to parents included the man’s name and past jail mugshots. The day care center later announced it would close at 3 p.m. because of the perceived threat.

Police and the mayor’s office fielded calls from concerned parents.

About 2 p.m., police located the man, who said he was talking about a video game when he asked coworkers what they thought about recent school shootings. He said he had not made any threats and was “embarrassed by the situation,” according to police.

Center co-director Melissa Konkel said the situation was being addressed internally and praised the police response.

La Crosse Police Chief Ron Tischer later apologized to the YWCA staff and parents for a lack of communication and for the department's response. 

"Our officers should have immediately notified YWCA that we had located the individual and that we learned that there was no credible threat," Tischer wrote in a letter sent Wednesday.

"In an effort to get information out to the public, we regrettably posted a message on Facebook indicating YWCA staff took it upon themselves to release information without contacting us," Tischer wrote. "After review of the incident, it was a result of our lack of communication to the YWCA which prompted them to take actions which were appropriate with the information they had available."


(1) comment


I would like more information about what the police did to protect the school between the time they first heard of the possible threat, and when they determined it to not be credible. When I called the police department, I was informed they would not be posting an officer to the school, even though they had yet to make satisfactory contact with the man, who had hung up on them when they tried to reach him by phone. Why were teachers the first (and only) line of defense while this situation was evolving?

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