Star Wars fans worldwide are celebrating May the Fourth, a.k.a. Star Wars Day, by wearing Star Wars-themed socks, posting fun memes and otherwise sharing their love for the galaxy far, far away. But a Wisconsin teenager's fondness for the franchise has resulted in a difficult situation.
An unidentified student wore a Darth Vader costume to Ashwaubenon High School in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin to celebrate the unofficial holiday. But at approximately 7:20 a.m., a parent spotted him entering the school and mistook him for an attacker. The mother called 911 and reported the sighting to police, stating that she had seen a man dressed in all dark clothes and a mask.
The Ashwaubenon Public Safety department and the Brown's County Sheriff's office secured a perimeter and instructed students and teachers to gather at a pre-designated location. Ashwaubenon High School was put on lockdown and subsequently evacuated. A nearby school and community center were also put on lockdown.
After the evacuation process had been completed, the student dressed as Darth Vader was taken in for questioning. Fortunately, the incident was understood to have been a misunderstanding. The Ashwaubenon Public Safety Twitter page offered three updates, with the last one letting parents know that children had been allowed back in the school:
At the scene, an unidentified police officer explained the situation to reporters. The parent had assumed the Darth Vader costume was a bulletproof vest or flak jacket:
"The student was wearing a Darth Vader outfit with a plastic mask and was carrying a bag with him, and that outfit looked like he might be wearing a bulletproof vest or a flak jacket. That, with wearing that mask and walking into the back door of the school, made a person very concerned. And we expect that to happen. We sure hope that people would call when this stuff takes place."
The police officer added:
"We believe it was an innocent mistake right now."
Further clarifying what had happened, shortly after the incident, the Ashwaubenon School District Facebook page posted a message offering concerned parents an in-depth explanation:
A few hours after that statement, the School District released an update, revealing that even though "[t]here was no intent of a threat, the student will be held accountable":
Shortly after that second update, the School District clarified that the student would not be punished after all, as it was just a lapse of judgement. Perhaps international media attention played a part in their decision.
While the entire situation might have been caused by a simple mistake, it's good to know that the school takes its students' safety seriously. Everyone is safe and there was no further trouble, so maybe let's just celebrate Star Wars Day after class?
Do you feel that the school overreacted to the costume or is it better to be safe than sorry? Share your voice in the comments below.