File Photo – BJ Hooper Elementary in Lindenhurst. | Photo: Google Street View

Police and school officials say they are investigating rumors circulating about a student “shooting up” a school that has prompted Lake Villa District 41 schools to go on soft lockdown.

Lake Villa School District 41 sent an email to parents Wednesday saying that they were aware of the rumored threat.

District 41 schools include Thompson School in Lake Villa, Palombi Middle School in Lake Villa, Martin Elementary School in Lake Villa and BJ Hooper Elementary in Lindenhurst.

The district said the rumors are connected to the stolen car incident that occurred on Friday at Palombi Middle School in Lake Villa.

The Lake Villa Police Department said the incident occurred around 8:15 a.m. Friday.

Lake Villa Police Department Lieutenant James DeCaro told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that it was determined a 13-year-old male student gained access to a staff member’s car keys.

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The student stole the staff member’s gray 2019 Kia Sorento SUV from the school’s parking lot. 

The juvenile is a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) ward of the state, DeCaro said.

He is believed to have driven to the Rockford area, which is where he is originally from.

DeCaro said a follow-up investigation determined that the juvenile may have accessed a firearm while on the run.

Law enforcement and DCFS authorities in the Rockford area were notified of the incident and have been actively attempting to locate the juvenile.

Lake Villa School District 41 said in their Wednesday email that the stolen car has since been recovered.

The school is working with the Lake Villa and Lindenhurst police departments to secure their buildings and investigate the credibility of the threat.

Police were at the district’s four school buildings during student arrival Wednesday morning.

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The Lake Villa Police Department said in a statement they were aware of a “widely circulated Instagram post” that made reference to the safety of the schools.

“We are investigating the post, which does not appear credible. We take these threats seriously and as a precaution, we have an extra police presence at our schools,” the police department said.

All buildings were placed on a soft lockdown district-wide as a precautionary measure.

During a soft lockdown, the perimeter is secured and exterior doors and windows are locked. Students may move freely throughout the school.

The district said activities including outdoor recess are canceled and after-school activities may also be canceled.

Access to the buildings is restricted until the alert is lifted. The district said more information would be communicated Wednesday afternoon.