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Oct. 12, 2006

Bomb and gun threats force lockdown of 14 MCPS schools

by Ethan Kuhnhenn, Online Managing Editor
Less than a week after MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast sent out a letter to students and parents assuring that, after a spate of school violence in the Midwest, Montgomery County schools were tightening security, a bomb threat and reports of a gunman triggered heightened security and even evacuations on 14 campuses across the northern part of the county.

Administrators implemented a Code Blue alert at 13 schools, including Northwest and Seneca Valley high schools, in the northwestern region, after a 7th grade student at Kingsview Middle School in Germantown told his bus driver that a gunman accosted him at a bus stop and then threatened violence at his middle school.

Police and school system officials later verified that the claim was false, but only after the school had implemented the Code Blue, which meant that students attended classes, but could not leave the building and were under close supervision by security officers.

Across the county, students at Sherwood high school in Olney were also rattled by threats of violence. School administrators decided to evacuate the school yesterday after a 15-year-old issued a bomb threat that also turned out to be false. The 2,200 students at the school evacuated the building as police with K-9 units swept the Sandy Spring campus for explosive devices.

In the early afternoon, a third incident in the Gaithersburg area forced two elementary schools to undergo Code Blue procedures. Administrators ordered the lockdown after a burglary suspect, matching the description of the alleged gunman who had supposedly made the threats earlier that day, was reported to be in the area. The lockdown only lasted for about 90 minutes.

Yesterday's turmoil comes only weeks after tragic shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The bomb and gun threats also mark the fourth time in the past week that Washington area schools have been forced to lockdown or evacuate because of security issues. Last week in Culpeper County, Virginia, all public schools were shut down because of a bomb threat. Yesterday in Arlington County, Virginia, security was tightened at two schools after a student shot at a school with a paintball gun.

No connections have been made between the threats to any of these schools.



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  • oh. on October 12, 2006 at 8:30 PM
    i never knew about all of this. wow.
    thats really sad.
    good article though!
  • random thought on October 12, 2006 at 8:43 PM
    i bet they didn't bother us because of the mystical aura of our ID's, which protects us from all harm (otherwise why would we wear them?)
  • scary on October 12, 2006 at 10:09 PM
    nice article, i'd heard little tidbits about the violence but this is a good summary.
  • Blazer on October 12, 2006 at 10:20 PM
    Jeez! What's up with that?!

    I feel like I'm justing waiting for something awful to happen at Blair (knock on wood).

    It makes me wish they put ID scanner on the doorway. It would be really annoying but I'd be willing to put up with it if it would help prevent this stuff.
  • Jon Phoenix Brookstone on October 13, 2006 at 12:40 AM
    To all potential, possible, might-be school shooters (aka everyone):

    Just because one person desides to pull a trigger somewhere else, everyone else things its some hot new trend and of course they have to do it too. Honestly, not only is that dangerous and disruptive, it's just plain boring. Almost anyone in this county (surprisingly enough) can get a gun and use it to kill people. But it takes a real dude to buck the trend and do something more productive than killing people.
  • Libertarian (View Email) on October 13, 2006 at 4:49 PM
    Jon, are you crazy? You arrive at a similar conclusion that I would, but are you serious? Killing people is boring? Ask the students at the schools of the shootings and their parents whether these shootings were boring. Actually killing isn't that tough. If someone is bent on killing people and not worried about getting caught, whether it's with a gun, knife, bat, etc. they'll probably find a way to do it. Thankful for us the majority of the people in this world/school are good and would never do something like that. Unfortunately some are just that sick, or have been pushed just too far.
  • Libertarian (View Email) on October 13, 2006 at 5:32 PM
    To Blazer,

    I don't believe ID scanners would help. There is absolutely no feasible method of stopping a crazy person who wants to kill and doesn't care about getting caught/killed themselves. Who cares if there are ID scanners in the doorway? Is someone with a gun just going to go "oh, ok, I don't have an ID. I'll leave now". Now if we had a security guard (with a gun) waiting in the doorway that might solve it (or it may just end in a shootout) but there are always people outside. All they'd have to do was wait until 2:10 or 3:00 and have their pick of hundreds of people as they leave the building (in chaos as well). Thankfully most people aren't willing to kill, and if they are they aren't willing to do so risking their own life. ID scanners or any other method short of arming the students (then we'd have some REAL problems) wouldn't really work all that well.
  • No Name on October 16, 2006 at 2:47 PM
    It's true; ID scanners wouldn't really help, in the event that someone decided to go on a rampage. In fact, it's a frightening thought, but there really isn't much we can do at all, if someone does indeed decide to bring and use a gun at school. What we DO have in place right now is about the extent of it: various codes for lockdowns and warnings, and evacuations.
    All the same, though, I don't completely disagree with the idea of ID scanners; it'd be useful for keeping kids or students from other schools who want to cause trouble from getting in, whereas normally they would.
    The problem with the ID scanners is that if they were to be implemented, they would be inconvenient, cost a great deal of money, slow down the flow of student traffic in the mornings (by an absurd amount), and they really wouldn't keep any disgruntled kids at this school from rather morbid, horrifying possibilities.
    Hopefully in the end, this unsettling chain of events will die down, and we won't have to worry about things like this anymore.
  • Eli Barnett (View Email) on October 17, 2006 at 8:38 AM
    How long does everyone think it will be untill the administration uses this as something that shows how "id's are necessary for security."
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