When Hancock Middle School students arrived on campus Wednesday morning, they were greeted by more than a dozen sheriff's deputies. Rumors of possible violence on campus brought the deputies to the school, but their presence didn't do much to make the rumors go away.
"I think it started off a racial type thing," Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber said. "There was going to be a riot after school with possible knives involved. That's basically where we started at when I received a call [Tuesday] morning."
Garber says the tension was fueled by an incident on campus nearly two weeks ago when an empty bullet casing was found near the school's football field.
"But it doesn't appear it was fired there. He did pick it up and basically that has come into this now. You have rumors that it was found during all of this. I've heard rumors that there's been gun shots, stabbings it's really getting out of hand. What I'm asking the people is let's stop the rumors," Sheriff Garber said.
The sheriff is taking the rumors seriously, as are many worried parents. Those who checked their kids out school say they weren't taking any chances.
"I just heard too many rumors, and I'd rather him be at home where I know that he's going to be safe and nothing is going to happen to him," one parent, Janet Villarreal, said.
Another parent, Dawn St. Pe', felt the same.
"In case something does happen, I don't want her to be anywhere around here," she said.
Sheriff Garber spent most of the day at the school talking to students, trying to ease their fears and let them know violence is nothing to joke about.
"I'm really hoping it will open some eyes and some hearts," Sheriff Garber said.