Two more threats have been found in boys restrooms at Monroe High School since the first that indicated a shooting might occur at first lunch on April 3.
Law enforcement, Monroe School District administrators and other community agencies are investigating the drawings, according to a letter to parents from MHS principal John Lombardi on Friday, April 14.
“The Monroe Police Department has classified these threats as acts of domestic terrorism, which are a felony and will be treated as such,” he wrote. “Acts of domestic terrorism are defined as the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
Lombardi stated the entire student body would be contacted concerning the severity of making such threats. Everyone is asked to come forward immediately with any information that pertains to the safety of students and staff. He also announced the availability of counselors for connecting with students who are “feeling anxious or fearful.”
The first sketch was found by students a little more than one week before the alleged event was set to take place. A photograph was taken of the image drawn on a toilet paper dispenser in a bathroom stall that read “April 3 @ 1st lunch =” followed by stick figures running away from a pointed gun.
By the time the finding was brought to the attention of school staff on Friday, March 30, the drawing had been erased. The picture wound up on social media that weekend. Lombardi sent out an alert the same day.
Many parents questioned whether to send their students to school on the date indicated in the illustrated threat. A high absentee rate was reported, but nothing else out of the ordinary occurred, Lombardi wrote in a letter to parents on Monday, April 3.
A second apparent threat that included a drawing of a gun was found before the school emptied for spring break, according to Lombardi. When everyone returned on Monday, April 17, a meeting was held with each grade level to discuss the threats.
The third drawing was found once the meetings concluded, Lombardi wrote. School district administrators later met to discuss security measures.
“We collectively determined that we need to reduce the number of access points into our building,” he wrote. “The first steps will be to keep the doors between the stadium and gymnasium area locked during the school day and implementing a uniform hall pass procedure so we know which students are out of classrooms at all times.”
Lombardi told students other exterior entrances may be closed, and students may be asked to wear identification during the day.
Monroe officers responded to each threat report, all three occurring in different boys bathrooms inside the school, said MPD administrative director Debbie Willis. She said the school's resource officer is conducting the investigation.
Video surveillance footage is being reviewed and staff and students, including those who first discovered the images, are being interviewed. Any leads are being followed, she said.
“When dealing with this type of threat we start getting the copy cats,” Willis said. “So at this time we are working with the school district to get a clear understanding to the students of how serious this type of activity is, and that we will charge the person if we can find out who did it.”
Willis said each of the three drawings have included a date, time or number of days a depicted threat would be carried out. A gun was illustrated on two of the three reported threats, she said.
At this time, no more information about the details of the sketches will be released, which includes whether they could have been drawn by one person, Willis said.
In both letters to parents, Lombardi states the school district is not releasing any specifics that may compromise safety measures put in place in response to the alleged threats.
“As a result of these threats, we are having ongoing conversations internally and with Monroe Police Department about how we can continue to refine our safety procedures and protocols in response to threats,” according to his April 14 letter. “We have received feedback from many families and are understanding of the concerns that have been shared. Please know that we take all feedback into consideration when debriefing situations and planning for future ones.”Photo by Kelly Sullivan: Two more threats have been found at Monroe High School since the first that had indicated a shooting may occur on April 3. Many students were absent then.