Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief
Late last week, we started hearing various rumors about a major fight that occurred involving at least two River Valley High School students, which I’m sure many of you have heard several versions of by now.
Normally, a school yard fight between a couple of teenagers wouldn’t be newsworthy, but the rumor mill started running fast with this one, and soon a video surfaced that showed what appeared to be a group of teenagers pistol whipping each other, with rumors that someone was hospitalized, another was on the run from authorities in Iowa and half the rumor mill saying it took place in Lone Rock, the other half saying it took place in Muscoda with all the students involved cutting school to rough each other up. With those accusations flying around this fight, it was a horse of a different color and Valley Sentinel felt it warranted an investigation with police departments.
We’re sharing this information today for a simple purpose: Bad gas travels fast in a small town, and this was no exception. After an investigation and discussion with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Muscoda Police, it’s clear that the Valley blew this school yard fight out of proportion with little regard for facts from officials or reliable news sources—and we need to talk about it.
Let’s start with setting the record straight: There was indeed a pretty rowdy fight that involved two or more RV High School students. Names will not be released because the students are still minors, 16 and 17 years old.
According to Chief Bill Schramm, Muscoda Police Department, individuals came to Muscoda “looking for a fight” to settle a dispute regarding relationship issues, on the evening of April 14, after school hours.
One of the minor individuals did bring an antique Benjamin Franklin pellet gun, which was used as a blunt force object during the fight, but was never discharged. Schramm reports the pellet gun broke into two pieces during the fight, as shown in the contributed photo.
Schramm reports there were no serious injuries and all parties are cooperating with police by providing statements.
Following the fight, a video circulated widely through students and the area, which means the case will be referred by Muscoda Police to the Grant County District attorney for criminal investigation.
Schramm said the DA will determine if there are any criminal Disorderly Conduct charges to be handed out, but said with certainty the individuals involved will be cited for Disorderly Conduct as an ordinance violation, which basically amounts to a ticketed fine.
Now that we all know the truth of what happened, and can see that it was truly a case of teenage emotions getting the best of everyone involved—not the crazy rollercoaster of teenagers cutting class to pistol whip each other to the point of hospitalization and running across state lines from authorities, let’s chat about the rumor mill and the importance of waiting or seeking out the facts before spreading slander in situations like this.
In a close knit area such as the Valley it can be easy for the game of telephone to start and tumble out of control quickly, as it did in this situation.
“Give it time, and find out the facts before you repeat it or forward it.”Chief Bill Schramm, Muscoda Police Department
When you compare the various rumors floating around this situation, versus what actually happened, it can serve as a good reminder that when rumors spread they aren’t simply just rumors—it’s people’s lives we are all discussing. In this case, it was the lives of a group of minors who made the wrong choice, we’ve all made the wrong choice at some point and I don’t think we’d want an entire geographical area discussing it and making up their own version.
The fact is, in this situation and anything similar it remains important to find the truth—wait for police, officials and news sources to report information before sharing it with others.
In the words of Schramm, “Give it time, and find out the facts before you repeat it or forward it.”
This incident can be a reminder of the importance of a few different things: rumors affect and toy with real, actual peoples lives, they aren’t meant to be something of entertainment, facts are important and local news sources are important too—it’s literally their job to find facts in situations like this and share it with the public, (just this week’s reminder to support local journalism — #shamelessplug).
The takeaway from this really should be patience. Be patient with law enforcement and news sources as we gather the facts of a situation, and whatever you do, don’t be the person who spreads wrongs about another person. Be better. Wait for the facts.