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School Officials Tamp Down Credibility of Threatening Message on Matanzas High School Wall

| April 16, 2015

matanzas high school scare

School’s very much open. (© FlaglerLive)

Matanzas High School officials got wind of a threatening posting on social media Thursday, targeting Matanzas students. The posting was an image of a scrawly, black-inked message on a bathroom wall. The message read: “I am going To shoot up the School Tomorrow Happy Friday,” with an attempt at an ironic smiley face as a signature. Parents were reporting that their children were coming home with a different image of an alleged message as well. (See the images below.)

But after taking security precautions Thursday and putting additional such precautions in place for Friday, school officials are urging parents and students to treat Friday as a normal school day.

The image appeared to have been taken in a Matanzas High School bathroom. But the black lettering also appeared out of kilter with the perspective of the image and the angle of the white wall, strongly suggesting that the lettering was superimposed onto the image to make it look like a scrawl on a Matanzas bathroom wall. And school officials all but determined that it was a hoax similar to others made to look as if they were targeting schools elsewhere in the country.

For example, at close to 5 p.m. Thursday, KUSA-TV, a station in Colorado, posted the following story: “Adams 12 School District officials said a threatening message found written on a bathroom wall at Legacy High School is not being considered credible. The message was discovered inside a girl’s restroom around 11 a.m. Thursday. The message read: “I am going to shoot up the school tomorrow, Happy Friday.” The difference, in that case, at least based on how the story was reported, was that the writing was discovered on a bathroom wall.

The image of the message, alleged to have been scrawled on a Matanzas High School bathroom wall, picked up on social media.

The image of the message, alleged to have been scrawled on a Matanzas High School bathroom wall, picked up on social media.

No such writing was discovered at Matanzas High School, Superintendent Jacob Oliva said. “There’s no evidence, nothing to be found,” he said Thursday evening. “We don’t believe there’s any merit behind the claim.” He stressed: “There is no evidence of this being written anywhere in that school.”

Chris Pryor, the principal at Matanzas, early Friday morning said the search included every student and faculty bathroom. “We saw nothing.” He said extra administrators will join the additional officer for the day.

Sheriff Jim Manfre said deputies helped the school investigate the matter. Two deputies instead of one will be posted at Matanzas Friday.

“We take any of these kinds of threats seriously so we’ll have additional deputies at Matanzas tomorrow and we’ll have additional stepped up patrols in the area,” Manfre said. “These kinds of things tend to happen at the end of a school year.” But, he added, they tend to be hoaxes.

Winnie Oden, the district’s safety director, informed school board members with this message: “There was a posting on Twitter that presented a photo of a wall at MHS that warned students not to come to school tomorrow. Chris and his team checked every location and found nothing.” She was referring to Chris Pryor. “Upon further investigation, it appears this is a hoax that has been used at other schools across the country. Chris will be doing a call out to his parents to advise them of his findings. We will have additional law enforcement presence [2 deputies ] on his campus tomorrow to show a heightened security.”

A quick scan of similarly-themed stories on the web reveals nearly identical scenarios elsewhere, including a high school in Puyallup, Washington in late February. That alleged threat prompted a school of the same name in Alabama to take precautions as well, thinking the threat was directed against it. Similar threats are detected at least as far back as 2010.

But late Thursday evening, soon after the Colorado incident was revealed, Williamson County, Tenn., police announced they’d arrested a middle school student for allegedly writing threatening messages at his school after four schools in the district had been evacuated this week following similar alleged threats. The superintendent there told local media he did not believe the four incidents were connected, though in each case, the incidents stemmed from supposed writings on each school’s bathroom walls. Those incidents were reported by a Brentwood, Tenn., website. It is likely that further scanning of the web would reveal many more such instances.

Pryor, the Matanzas High School principal, disseminated a recorded message to Matanzas parents and households, and school officials are calling on all students to come to school on Friday. “We plan to have a normal day of school, keep focused on learning, keep the same routines,” Oliva said.

The different message being reported appears below.

school threat bathroom wall message

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16 Responses for “School Officials Tamp Down Credibility of Threatening Message on Matanzas High School Wall”

  1. Any threat should be taken seriously. For someone to say kids are trying to get a day off is simply ignorant. I have family that goes there and I definitely want them protected.

  2. I received the call and email from the Principal. Sounds like all is under control.

  3. Brian Kew says:

    I got no notification and my kid says teacher took this pic

  4. This is a hoax that is taking place in multiple area right now. FCSD has it under control.

  5. Is there any chance your phone numbers or email aren’t properly listed on skyward?.. I know at one point there was an issue with my account having another patents contact info… Might be worth looking into…

  6. It was all a hoax. My daughter says that’s not even any of the bathrooms at Matanzas

  7. Maybe the kid is just frustrated with the school system for not teaching them how to spell simple words like tomorrow properly.. Also ironic how this story comes out at the same time as the article on how they do not believe the schools need to be armed..

  8. Brian Kew says:

    Yea my kids lives arnt worth the chance either way. And I am telling you they did not call every kids parents I got 3 kids in that school and neither my wife or I got any notification. Think they should resend the message..

  9. Beach Guy says:

    The article failed to mention the spelling of “tomorow” is not the proper spelling. Learn to spell before you go around shooting up schools, for you still have a long life ahead of you, and apparently much more to learn.

  10. Brooke h says:

    Threats big or small should always be priority ! Especially, within a school system. It is really frustrating to me that this is being deemed as a hoax! Are you God? Exactly ! Bottom line … For a child to make such threats something is wrong ! My kid stays home ! Get it together folks we are in 2015!

  11. school employee says:

    Why would you keep your kid home from school when there are the EXACT same pictures being posted on social media at other schools in different parts of the country? My brother lives in CO and his daughter had the EXACT same picture posted on social media in regard to her high school. These same pictures were posted two months ago at a different school. It obviously isn’t real.

  12. Lancer says:

    My life or my family’s lives will not be driven or dominated by fear.

  13. Robert says:

    I got the call and the ‘Sky Alert’ message on my computer… very timely and I appreciate their efforts to let us know.

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