FBI probes ‘credible threat’ at Columbine, nearby schools
Authorities are investigating what they deemed a “credible threat” at Columbine High School and more than 20 other schools in Colorado’s Jefferson County, a scare that comes just days before the community planned to commemorate the 20th anniversary of one of the country’s deadliest school shootings.
Near the end of the school day Tuesday, county public school officials announced they had placed Columbine and nearby schools on “lockout,” which, they said, means classes would continue as usual inside while entries to and exits from the building would be restricted.
“We are currently investigating what appears to be a credible threat possibly involving the schools,” the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department said in a tweet. “Children are safe. Deputies are at the schools. “
The FBI is leading the investigation, said Mike Taplin, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment, but the state’s Education Department said in a tweet that the threat came from “an individual identified by the FBI.”
Two hours after announcing the lockouts, the school system reported that all its students and staff were safe, adding that students would be released from the schools and buses would run on their normal schedule, though some might be slightly delayed. Officials said extra security would be present on the affected campuses.
After-school activities and sports practices would also continue as scheduled, except at Columbine, where they were canceled for the day.
Since April 20, 1999, when two gunmen stormed Columbine, killed 13 people and wounded 24 more, threats of violence have become a painful fact of everyday life for the high school and the highly trained security team tasked with keeping it safe.
“Getting threats is not out of the normal for Columbine High School,” Taplin said.
The 20th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine will take place on Saturday. As the district prepares for the day’s memorial events, it is fending off an onslaught of curious strangers who trespass in the parking lot of the high school.
The district has also seen an increase in threats and concerning messages, which often come in the form of emails to the school or phone calls to the 24-hour dispatch center run by the district’s security team. The frequency of threats means the students at Columbine are accustomed to lockouts.