FBI probes ‘cred­i­ble threat’ at Columbine, nearby schools

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - By Reis The­bault and Jes­sica Con­tr­era

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.

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