Parent speaks out after being accused of making threats

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MEXICO - A Mexico man says frustration over bullying at Mexico Middle School led him to make threats towards principal Deborah Hill Haag.

Damion Linder was arrested Wednesday and accused of making a terroristic threat.

The disturbance started, he said, after his daughter was kicked off the bus for allegedly arguing with another student.

"We went to the school to talk to the principal to figure out what was going on and why Eleanor got kicked off the bus," Damion Linder said. 

He said he became upset with Hill Haag when she mispronounced his daughter's name. The principal asked Linder to leave and he refused. 

Damion Linder said he and the principal continued to argue.

"She told my wife on the phone 'a responsible person would be able to figure out how to get Eleanor back and forth to school being that she can't ride the bus'. And I said 'an  irresponsible person would leave their gun safe unlocked for anybody to have access to it.' She immediately went to get the police officer," Damion Linder said.

There was a School Resource Officer in the building, but not near the office at the time of the incident. Linder left the building before the resource officer arrived. 

Linder said the way his daughter has been treated at Mexico Middle School made him upset.

"She's been coming home a lot, dealing with bullies at school. We've been in there a lot, we have. I mean, it's an ongoing battle. She's dealt with it many years. You think it's going to get better and it doesn't," Linder said. 

Rachel Linder, Damion Linder's wife and Eleanor's mother, said the bullying at Mexico Middle School has become concerning.

"I don't wish anybody ill will. I just want things to change for once and for all, and for somebody to pay attention to the students," Rachel Linder said. "These bully reports are going to keep coming in and you can't just brush them under the rug." 

Mexico Public Safety Officers arrived at Linder's home and he was taken into custody and transported to the Mexico Public Safety Department. He was then taken to the Audrain County Jail.

According to the press release, "Officers found no indication that Linder had immediate plans to act on his threat." 

The district sent the following statement to parents on Wednesday:

"This morning, a terroristic threat was made by a disgruntled parent against the middle school to both the principal and another visiting parent.

"We took the information very seriously. Our SRO was on campus and was immediately notified. Mexico Public Safety arrested the parent from his home and transported him to the Sheriff's Department. They are currently investigating the situation.  

"Police have assured us that it is safe to continue with our regular school routines and to continue our normal precautionary safety measures.  We are thankful for the constant support of Mexico Public Safety in helping us provide a safe environment for our students and staff."

In an e-mail to KOMU 8 News, they added:

"All threats are taken seriously as our first concern is that our students and staff are safe. 

Anytime an event like this happens, we follow up and use this as a teaching moment to remind our students and staff about school safety protocols and our action plans to keep everyone safe."