Shooting threat at school
First published: September 21, 2012
Last updated Thursday, September 20th, midnight.
On Wednesday, September 19th, 2012, at approximately 9:30 pm to 10:45 pm, an anonymous poster on /b/ posted a threat against my school, Skyline High School.
The original post was subsequently deleted around approximately 10:50 pm, but several copies of the post were taken.
At approximately 10:45 to 10:50, activity on Facebook exploded, with the images and information spreading like wildfire among Skyline students. The police were apparently notified by numerous people, locals, 4channers, and redditors, from both Samammamish to locales as distant as Canada or Pennsylvania.
At 11:20 pm, the Issaquah School District sent out a mass email notification alerting parents and students of the threat, and cancelling school.
Dear Skyline students and staff:
Apologies for the late notification, but we’ve had an emergency situation arise. Police have received a report of a threat against Skyline students reported to take place tomorrow and they are investigating. Working closely with them, we’ve decided to act out of an abundance of caution and close school tomorrow 9/20/12. Please do not have any staff, students or community members come to Skyline campus. We will have more information for you tomorrow or as it’s available. Again, apologies for the late notificaiton but student and staff safety is our top concern.
Facebook activity continued largely unabated until around midnight.
At 3:01 pm on Thursday, September 20th, 2012, The Issaquah School District sent out a notification stating that school would resume tomorrow (Friday), albeit starting later then usual.
Dear Skyline Community,
We have all been deeply rattled by the threat we received late last night, and we appreciate your concern and questions today as we all work together to make sure school opens again and students and staff feel safe and secure. Our main focus has been to partner with police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the online posting. While we have not identified the exact origin of the post, we have learned several important things: Postings of almost an exact nature—including those that target neighboring districts—have been circulating on the same online forum for several years with no resulting action on the threat; the forum in which these postings have spread is meant specifically to encourage users to create social reaction (users earn points by causing community anxiety); police have followed up on all current leads and will continue to look into new tips; and police have called on technical experts to help verify the authenticity of the picture and posting.
We have put a plan in place that gives us confidence to invite you to campus and resume classes tomorrow, although we can never guarantee with 100-percent certainty that our school will be safe.
We will begin our day at the later Wednesday time, 9:55 a.m., and end at the usual time, 2:16 p.m. Police and staff will arrive early to secure the campus, regain their own comfort level, and prepare to support students when they arrive. Our schedule will include all six periods to give students and teachers the chance to reconnect. Additionally, we will take these extra measures:
- Police will be present on campus throughout the day.
- Families are invited to make their own decision about whether they are comfortable sending students to school. Extraordinary circumstances are certainly a mitigating factor for student absences.
- Staff will be available beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Olympic Gym to answer any parent or student questions.
- All staff will be extra vigilant for any unusual circumstances.
- Staff will speak to students in first-period classes about the incident.
- Extra counseling will be on hand to work with students as needed.
- We will operate as a closed campus for lunch to better manage the flow of students in and out of the school.
As we open school again, all after-school athletics and activities will continue as planned. We have even arranged for extra police presence at the away football game.
This threat has caused us all to pause and reflect on our vulnerability. But it has also rallied our community, and there are many thanks that we must send: to our local and regional police officers who worked on the investigation full steam, exploring all avenues; to our families and community members who sent us ongoing notifications and tips to follow up on; to neighboring districts that offered assistance; and to our students and alumni who quickly emailed building leadership expressing their willingness to help their school.
If you have any information or tips to help the police find a suspect, please call 206-296-3311.
We hope to see you tomorrow, Spartans, for an uneventful and learning-filled Friday!
Interestingly, Eastlake High School (a nearby school) was open on Thursday, but chose to close on Friday, out of general caution.
According to news reports, the original poster was hidden behind a proxy traced to Sweden. The image of the gun turned out to be a copy of an advertisement (click the ‘view inactive advertisement’ button; link in case the source goes down), allegedly originally posted from the Philippines (citation needed), indicating that there’s a possibility either that the threat is hollow, or that the original poster might be savvy enough to select a photograph that cannot be traced to him or her.
This page will be updated as more information is found.