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1 woman charged after threat causes all Clermont County schools to lock down

The lockdown has been lifted
Summerside Elementary school, part of the West Clermont school district
Posted at 10:48 AM, May 26, 2022

BATAVIA, Ohio — A 35-year-old woman was charged with making a threat that prompted the lockdown of every school in Clermont County Thursday morning, Pierce Township police said.

Helen Kemplin is facing one count of inducing panic and one count of making a terroristic threat, Pierce Township Police said. She will be in court Friday at 10 a.m., according to Clermont County court documents.

All Clermont County schools were placed under lockdown after police said Kemplin made a threat toward schools at a Marathon gas station on State Route 125 at 9:17 a.m.

The schools were placed under lockdown at 9:50 a.m., according to Union Township police.

Pierce Township Police Chief Paul Broxterman held a press conference about the arrest at approximately 11:15 a.m.

Authorities had a description of her vehicle, Chief Broxterman said, and deputies located her vehicle at Oakmont Flats in Amelia at 9:42 a.m. The deputies made contact with her via phone at 9:50 a.m. and were able to make contact with her in-person at 9:51 a.m.

According to Chief Broxterman, the woman yelled "I'm just going to drop my kids off at a police station and then go shoot up my kid's school."

Police said the woman was with her infant child when the threats were made, and she had previously dropped her other two children off at Summerside Elementary School, which is part of West Clermont School district.

The gas station clerk alerted authorities who then arrested the woman at her home shortly thereafter.

"It took us a minute or two because you kind of look at it like 'OK, was she serious?' like do we want to be the people that took that chance that she wasn't serious and something does happen," Andy, a clerk at the gas station, said. "Like we'd have to live with that the rest of our lives so we didn't want to be those people."

Andy said Kemplin was saying how she was stressed and needed to buy cigarettes, which she couldn't afford. Andy also said she always seems stressed out and "very on edge" whenever she came into the store.

"Whether she meant it or not, it's a very weird thing to say and the way the world is going right now," Andy said. "And all three of us that are here right now all have kids the same age as the kids of what just happened in Texas you know so... we're all on edge about it even though it's the end of the school year."

Mental health issues may be a factor as well, Chief Broxterman said.

While police were investigating the threats, each school remained on lockdown until they were cleared by law enforcement officers. The lockdown — which lasted roughly 20 to 30 minutes for the schools — has since been lifted.

Chief Broxterman said they initiated a lockdown at each school in the county to "err on the side of caution." All school administrators in the county were then notified of the threat.

There are nine school districts in Clermont County. Within the nine districts, there are 44 schools that went under lockdown, including high schools, middle schools, elementary schools and preschools.

West Clermont School District also said law enforcement provided additional security to each school in its district, and will remain there despite the lockdown being lifted.

"We wanted to err on the side of caution because we did not know who this suspect was or where she was going," Chief Paul Broxterman said. "In light of everything that's going on nowadays, we made the right call there."

The lockdown came a day after a 13-year-old at West Clermont Middle School was charged for making threats of violence, and two days after 19 students and 2 teachers were killed in a mass shooting at a middle school in Uvalde, Texas.

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