A video of high school students threatening other kids with a gun forced Belgrade school officials to order several schools to shelter in place while police rounded up those involved.

Four students are charged with felony intimidation, according to a Belgrade police news release sent late Tuesday. Also in connection with the incident, an adult man is charged with felony tampering with physical evidence.

The release said the police department couldn’t provide further comment because the incident is still under investigation. Belgrade police detectives are still trying to contact the people mentioned in the video.

E.J. Clark, Belgrade police chief, said law enforcement responded to Belgrade High School around 1 p.m. Tuesday because of the video. Clark said the students who made the video posted it on social media, and students showed it to school administration.

Clark said the “rap-like” video showed one of several kids pointing a gun at the camera as names of students scrolled by on the screen. He said the video was made off campus, and that no weapons were found at the school.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, the shelter in place orders for Belgrade’s high school, middle school, and Saddle Peak and Heck Quaw elementary schools were lifted and students were let out. The order meant students and staff were kept inside the school and no outside activities were allowed. Classes went on as normal inside.

Wednesday is the high school’s last day for the year. Clark said there would be a law enforcement presence on campus typical for any other last day of school.

Godfrey Saunders, Belgrade superintendent, said he called the shelter in place because officials didn’t know if there were any weapons at the schools. He said that order was lifted because they were sure that there was no threat.

Saunders applauded the students who came forward and shared the video with the school’s administration.

“It says a lot about our students,” Godfrey said.

As part of the procedures for shelter in place, most parents stayed away from campus as officers and school officials sorted things out. A few anxious parents stood by in cars waiting for their children to be released, as Belgrade police officers holding rifles blocked off entrances to the high school parking lot.

Lynda Keller, whose son is a freshman, said she left work in Bozeman after receiving a notification about the order. Keller said her son sent her texts saying he was OK, and that it was likely because of a well-circulated video.

“That shouldn’t be allowed. There’s got to be something done to prevent this kind of stuff,” she said.

Jana Wagner, mother of a high school freshman, said she dropped off her daughter shortly before the shelter in place was announced, and was worried and frustrated because “these things happen too often.”

“It’s just scary as a parent,” Wagner said.

Belgrade’s middle school graduation was scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the high school. Superintendent Saunders said the graduation would happen Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and the Bozeman Police Department assisted in the investigation.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.


Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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