Students concerned after bullet, shooter threat

The school was evacuated Saturday after a threat found in a bathroom.

Connor Boyle

The school was evacuated Saturday after a threat found in a bathroom.

LFHS was evacuated Saturday after a student found a school evacuation map graffitied with an “image of a potential location for a school shooter, a derogatory statement directed toward a staff member, a drawing of a swastika, and a student name included as a supposed signature” in a bathroom. 

The graffiti sparked an immediate response from the administration, and the building was closed for the remainder of the day as everyone in the building was sent home. 

In a school-wide email, Principal Erin Lenart said the students responsible have been reported to Robert W. Depke Juvenile Detention Center to determine appropriate charges. Their names were not released because they are minors. 

This was the third safety concern over the last few weeks. A student was recorded watching a video about weapons on Sept. 26, and on Oct. 6 a bullet was found on the floor of a well-traveled throughway in the library. 

The administration said their investigation determined the student watching the video “was not deemed to be a threat,” and was concluded to not be related to either of the other two events, according to another school-wide email. As for the bullet, an anonymous student came forward with the name of the student who was responsible.

“A student pointed it out to Mrs. Lauren Fairchild, who came over to look at it; nobody touched it. She brought Mrs. Veronica Roman over also, they looked at it, called security and the security dealt with it from there,” librarian Ms. Katie Pausch said. 

“We went on lockdown when there were threats to businesses that weren’t at the school, so when there was an actual threat inside the school and they didn’t lock the school down that was scary”

— Sydney Rubinstein, senior

Administration was quickly in contact with parents, but some students were not receiving updates. 

“I think that at the very least teachers should have been notified while it was happening. People should be more aware of what is going on in a more timely manner,” senior Natalie Goeks said. 

The communication was soon fixed, as Dr. Lenart wrote that it was because of  a “slight glitch in our system.” 

Even so, some students remain uneasy.

“It’s still really scary knowing that the environment that you spend seven hours a day in has had threats towards it. It’s a really unsettling feeling,” Rubinstein said. 

Senior Posy Connery said she felt comfort knowing “teachers are here for you as is the other support staff.”

“As our principal communicated with the students more, I felt better knowing how the school was handling the situation,” she said.

Still, the uncertainty left attendance rates lower than usual on Friday.

“I stayed home Friday. I woke up and my mom asked if I wanted to stay home that morning because of everything that was happening,” junior Andrew Rourke said. “It’s messed up what’s happening and people are treating it as a joke.”

Just months after the Highland Park shooting that killed seven people and injured 48 others, fear is a very real feeling among students at the school. 

It has also been a challenging year for security. The school had a soft lockdown because of  a bomb threat the first month of school. Administration is looking to add security cameras and update classroom doors that do not lock from the inside.

Others say they feel safe, despite the threats.

“I felt safe in the school even after the reports were made,” said junior Graham Garrigan. “The students were not making threats but acting stupid.” 

The uncertainty led to rumors of other threats. Dr. Lenart stressed that security relies on students coming forward when they hear of threats.

“I have heard many rumors that have been untrue or not reported by a source to the school,” Dr. Lenart’s email said. “ I address some of the rumors in the letter,  but I want to go on record as stating this:  Please tell me what you are hearing and tell me from whom, so we can determine if it is credible and keep our school community safe.”

Because all three events occurred within a short time period, the school began to reevaluate their safety plans and procedures. 

“The incident made us think about things a lot more and also talk about going forward if there are things we can change. We’re still talking about that to look at for the future,” Ms. Pausch said. “It’s hard; we’re looking at how to change the traffic flow in and out of here with five different entrances.”

Dr. Lenart was not available Thursday for comment. Director of Safety and Operations Mr. Lane Linder, Officer Mark Long, and the LFHS deans did not wish to comment.

Staff writers Jack Carrabine and Fitz Diefenbach contributed to this story.