WOODBRIDGE, Conn. (WTNH) – Amity Regional High School increases police presence after a threat of violence was emailed to students and staff Monday morning.
The school district later confirmed it originated from a false email account, but the ordeal has shaken parents and students.
The school confirmed to News 8, about 43 students and staff received two threatening emails around 9:30 a.m. The Woodbridge Police Department responded and began an investigation.
News 8 obtained copies of the threats. We can tell you they showed a handgun and included statements that no one was safe.
We spoke to Caitlin Ewing, a sophomore, who told us, “Someone, like, threatened that they were going to shoot up the school at noon and they have a gun. And that they were saying that ‘Amity would pay, we’re all doomed.’ Stuff like that.”
Around 9:45 a.m., the school sent out an email to parents reporting the threatening email but assuring them the students and staff were safe.
At about 10:45 a.m., the school was put in a shelter-in-place mode to allow police and school administrators to investigate.
“And all of a sudden the loudspeaker went on and they were like ‘There is a shelter-in-place and then they made people go back to class. I don’t know. They started trying to send us back to class, but I just went to the bathroom because I didn’t know what else to do,” Ewing described.
Concerned parents reported to the school to pick up their kids. Many had to wait several hours because the school dismissed the students one by one after verifying the IDs of the guardians picking them up.
Parents told News 8 they were lining up outside, some got so frustrated they banged on the doors and windows.
Parents like Carrie McDaniel got anxious calls from their frightened children.
“When it happens at your child’s school then you realize how freaked out you can get,” McDaniel said. “So I just want to get him out.”
The shelter-in-place order was lifted at 1:15 p.m.
As students came out of the school, News 8 spoke to them and their parents.
We asked, “How do you feel about this whole dismissal process?”
One parent told us, “Awful. I thought it was very disorganized. There should have been a lot of staff because we were pretty panicky, everybody is really worried about their kid.”
“I would hope this shows there needs to be some better system in place for how kids are released,” McDaniel said.
Chief Frank Cappiello of the Woodbridge Police Department explained, “Usually not this many people come at once but parents being alarmed they did and this was facilitating this as best they could to make sure it was safe and orderly.”
The police chief understands the parents’ frustration. His department is working with local and State Police and the FBI to figure out who did this and why.
“We have a police presence on-site and ensure everyone’s safety. We’re investigating and will get to the bottom of it,” the chief said.
Later in the day, the school district confirmed to News 8, the threat came from a false email account originating outside of school accounts. They say they have “no reason to believe that the student name in the email account was responsible for the email contents or distribution.”
At this time, the school building and campus are believed to be safe and secure.
In a statement, the school district said, “The school district will continue to work with the Woodbridge Police Department and state agencies and assist in the investigation. Police presence remained on campus for the remainder of the school day. Due to uncertain student attendance, all afterschool activities and athletics were canceled. While we are confident in the safety and security of the school campus and building, we will have additional police presence on site tomorrow as we return to normal school operations.”
There will be a police presence at the school for the rest of Monday, as well as an additional police presence at the school Tuesday.
Additional information will be provided when it becomes available.
Follow WTNH for updates on this story.