Authorities Investigating Rash of Active Shooter Notes Found in Multiple Central Illinois Schools

By Jeremy Coumbes on November 3, 2022 at 3:20pm

Police are investigating a rash of notes threatening of an active shooter that have been found in a number of central Illinois schools since yesterday, and one teenager has been arrested as a result.

High Schools in Virden and Taylorville were both put on lockdown this morning, and Pana High School was on lockdown yesterday after notes were found saying there was an armed shooter in the school.

Just before 9:30 this morning, Taylorville Police received a call of an active shooter at the high school. According to a report by WICS 20 in Springfield, the school was secured and no active threat was discovered.

The note that was found was reportedly written on the wall of a restroom toilet stall and said “There is a school shooter in the building with a gun help”. Taylorville Police said that after officers reviewed video of the scene, they determined the student who reported finding the note to school officials was actually the one who wrote the threatening note on the wall.

18-year-old Payton L. Chronister was taken into custody by Taylorville Police who was then taken to the Christian County Sheriff’s Office. His current status remains unknown at this time, however, a hearing has been set for tomorrow morning for a charge of class 4 felony of disorderly conduct.

A similar incident happened this morning when North Mac High School in Virden was placed on lockdown after a threatening note was found. According to a press release from the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office, the note said there was an active shooter at the school, but no specific details have been released as of press time.

Officers that included K9 units searched and ultimately cleared the school of any danger. Virden High School officials said classes would continue through the day with an increased police presence.

At approximately 8:00 am yesterday, a note was found on the wall of a restroom at Pana High School. According to WAND-TV a release from the Pana Police Department last night confirmed that no active threat was found after a search of the school and that officers systematically cleared each classroom and student yesterday before they were escorted off of campus. Classes resumed in Pana this morning.

No indication has been made by authorities that the incidents are connected. Illinois State Police Zone 4 Investigators are leading the investigation into the Pana incident. We will bring you more information as it becomes available.