One week after a gunman opened fire at a Parkland, Florida, high school, killing 17, school districts in central Pennsylvania responded to threats or possible threats on their campuses.
One York County district went as far as to close for two consecutive days at the recommendation of police after reports of social media threats.
In Lancaster County, Hempfield School District officials and East Hempfield Township police are investigating a threatening graffiti message found Wednesday at the high school.
Graffiti was found in multiple bathroom stalls, according to school district spokeswoman Shannon Zimmerman. One piece rose to a level of concern because it stated a threat to kill an unnamed, unidentified individual at an unknown location on Feb. 28, she said.
“The safety and security of our schools is of paramount importance. The shooting in Florida last week has given rise to heightened concerns among students and adults alike, and we are addressing concerns and investigating tips or events as they occur,” Zimmerman said.
East Hempfield Township police are working with the district to determine whether there is a specific threat and need to file charges, according to Chief Stephen Skiles.
The district said it will give an update when the investigation is done. If the investigation is not finished by Feb. 27, the district will decide what to do Feb. 28, according to Zimmerman.
Anyone with information is asked text 847411 (TIP411) and include “Hempfield” in the message.
A post by an Elizabethtown Area School District parent on Facebook led to dozens of concerned comments and misinformation.
The mother's post, made on the Elizabethown, PA Facebook page, said her daughter told her there was “a strong police presence on campus,” according to spokesman Troy Portser.
There was no extra police presence Wednesday, just the school resource officer who is at the school every day, he said.
The district posted a statement in response to the post to keep parents informed. The original Facebook post has been deleted, he said.
“A lot of it was misinformation,” Portser said. “We cleared the air.”
Other central Pennsylvania incidents
Central York School District closed Wednesday after social media threats were made against elementary, middle and high school students. A task force of Springettsbury Township Police Department and other local agencies continue to investigate, according to the district.
The district announced Wednesday night that it would close again Thursday.
In Dauphin County, Susquehanna Township School District had increased police presence on campus Wednesday after a social media post regarding a potential shooting at the district. The district said it believed the threat was unfounded in a statement on its website.
Also in Dauphin County, an 11-year-old was charged after bringing a BB gun and an air-soft gun to Steelton-Highspire Elementary School on Wednesday.