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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Police investigating shooting threat at Stuart

 Stuart High School will be open as usual on Friday, June 8, despite a threat about a school shooting.

A message was discovered in a school bathroom stating: “SHCOOL [sic] SHOOTING ON FRIDAY 8TH OF JUNE PREPARE.”

Someone posted a screen shot of the message on Snapchat, and student Alexzandr Saleh reposted it on Twitter. According to a Stuart student, Principal Penny Gros told students that Saleh is not considered a suspect.

The threat is being investigated by the Fairfax County Police Department’s central intelligence unit, said Heather West, the crime prevention officer with the Mason Police Station. There will be additional police officers at the school on June 7 and 8, says FCPD spokesperson Christopher Sharp.

The convocation assembly, where awards will be presented to seniors, will still be happening as scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

Gros sent a message to parents on June 5 stating: “A threatening message directed at the school was found written inside a student bathroom this morning and the image was also shared on social media. Police and the FCPS Safety and Security Office were immediately notified and we are working with them to identify the individual or individuals responsible for the message. At this time, we have no reason to believe the threat is credible but all threats directed at the school are taken seriously with appropriate follow-up and intervention.”

Gros sent another message to parents on June 6 stating, “We continue to work closely with Fairfax County Police as we investigate the threat found in a student bathroom yesterday. To give you more specific information, the threat was written in pencil on a toilet paper dispenser in a bathroom that is rarely used during the instructional day. The threat was specific to Friday, June 8. We have interviewed several individuals and, at this time, there is no reason to believe students and staff are at risk. We believe this was only meant to disrupt school operations.”

“All threats are taken seriously and significant resources have been expended in trying to resolve this matter.” Gross continued. “As a precaution, we are going to have additional security and police presence at our school on Friday to provide reassurance to students and staff,” Gross states. “Our plan is to continue to have normal school operations today, tomorrow and Friday. We will continue to encourage our students to notify a teacher, administrators and/or a member of our security team any time they have information which could potentially compromise the safety and security of Stuart High School.”

According to a Stuart senior, the message was in a seldom-used bathroom near the gym that someone could easily access without being seen. While there are security cameras in the hallways, it is not known whether the camera near that location would capture a potential suspect. That hallway is often crowded with students coming in and out of the gym, the student said.

That student is considering staying home on Friday and knows of at least four students who will stay home. He also heard that some parents coming to the convocation might bring firearms. Virginia is an open carry state, although guns are not allowed on school grounds.

A Stuart parent believes Gros would be understanding if students stay home, as she was supportive of students who participated in a walkout by students demanding action on gun violence prevention. A couple of Stuart students participated in a town hall school shootings on June 4 convened by school board member Sandy Evans and Del. Kaye Kory.

1 comment:

  1. Stuart Principal Penny Gros sent the following message to parents June 7:

    “Our investigation into the anonymous ‘threat’ directed at the school continues. At this time, Fairfax County Police have been unable to determine if the message that was found in a school bathroom earlier this week is valid.”

    “Stuart High School will be open tomorrow and we will proceed with our convocation at 9:30 a.m. in the main gym. There will be extra police and security inside and outside the building tomorrow.”

    “It is my firm belief that this threat was done to disrupt school operations which is unfortunate that it is doing so during a time that would normally be celebratory. However, given the circumstances, we fully understand if you choose to keep your students home tomorrow. As parents and guardians, you need to make decisions that you feel are in the best interests of your children. If you choose to keep your child home and would like the absence excused, please have your child bring a note to the main office on Monday. We would prefer that you not leave a message on the attendance line given our limited clerical resources.”

    “Our boys soccer team will travel to Richmond tomorrow to compete in the state semi-finals and the spirit bus we have chartered for students to support the team will be leaving for Richmond as scheduled. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact the school office or email me directly.”