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December 22, 2012

Reported 'threat' snags GHS

Police patrol school but no gun or message found

Gloucester Police maintained a presence at Gloucester High School throughout the day Friday after police received an early-morning call from a “credible source,” reporting that the source understood someone had written a gun threat on a bathroom wall within the school.

Police received the call about 6:35 a.m. and sent two officers over to check the bathrooms for any threats, while other officers notified Police Chief Leonard Campanello and the superintendent of schools Richard Safier, according to a police report. Police found no such markings in any of the high school, after checking all of the bathrooms, police said. But, officers were still stationed at entrances to the school throughout the day.

“We are very confident everything is under control,” Safier said about 9:30 a.m. Friday.

But many parents, with the tragic Connecticut elementary school shooting of a week prior fresh on their minds — especially as the City Hall bells rang out Friday morning, memorializing the 20 elementary students and six adults killed in the shootings there — were still worried.

Several of those parents funneled into the school to pick up their sons and daughters and take them out of classes for the day. The school was never evacuated, and classes continued on schedule.

“I don’t want to take any chances,” said parent Kathy Wheeler. “With what’s been going on, I don’t care if that’s a joke. It’s sick.”

A school employee radioed Wheeler’s son’s teacher and, minutes later, he left with his mother, past police officers posted at the main entrance and out to the circular student drop off zone. A few other cars also lined up around the circle, windshield wipers beating against the rain as parents parked and bustled into the school.

But, aside from the school’s main entrance and front offices, the building seemed at a calm even by 9 a.m., with classes running normally. School administrators had visited many of the classrooms, explaining the day’s circumstances to the teens, and the school day continued as scheduled, according to Superintendent Safier.

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