Columbine High School, in 1999 site of one of the nation’s bloodiest and most horrifying school shootings, had to be placed on alert today thanks to a series of telephone threats aimed at the Littleton, Colorado, school.
“We’ve had several phone calls back-to-back threatening Columbine High School,” said Jefferson County Sheriff’s Spokesperson Mark Techmeyer, contacted by The Los Angeles Times.
Techmeyer said that such threats are not exactly surprising.
“We’ve had hundreds of these since the massacre, and we take them all seriously. It is normally a short-lived event,” he said.
Today’s event fit that description. The school was placed on alert and under a “lockout.” Unlike in a lockdown, where all business in the building comes to a halt, in a lockout incident, the school day proceeds as it normally would, except that no one is allowed to enter or leave the building until the threat is lifted.
Police determined that the threat wasn’t a credible one by 2 pm and removed the lockout requirement. Police also told CBS Denver News that the Columbine threats did not appear to be local in origin. The threatening phone calls started at about 10 am and continued for the next few minutes.
Police would not release details of what was said during the menacing calls to the school, which remains haunted by the 1999 massacre a decade-and-a-half after the fact. April 20 this year marks the 15th grim anniversary of the Columbine massacre, in which two students killed 12 fellow students, one teacher and themselves.
Today’s lockout was also imposed at six area elementary schools and one middle school.
The Denver Post today reported that according to documents obtained by its reporters, there have been about 400 threats made against schools by students in five of Colorado’s largest school districts this school year alone — 40 of those threats considered serious enough to merit the highest level of threat alert.
Police did not say whether they believed today’s threats against Columbine came from a student, or were connected to anyone at the school.
In September of last year, at a different Littleton High School, Arapahoe High, student Karl Pierson made a threat against a debate coach. Then on December 13, Pierson came into school armed, looking for the coach. Instead he killed another student and then himself.
He carried a machete, a shotgun, 125 rounds of ammunition and three Molotov cocktails, which are homemade incendiary bombs, as if he was planning to emulate the Columbine massacre. But administrators at Littleton Public Schools would not say if Pierson’s threat was met with the highest-level response.