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Anchorage police investigate written threats at Dimond High while school remains in session

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: November 9, 2018
  • Published November 9, 2018

Dimond High School, photographed August 22, 2018. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Anchorage police on Friday were investigating a written threat found in a bathroom at Dimond High School, according to the school district.

It's the fourth threat found at the school this week, said Michael Graham, district chief academic officer. All were written in bathrooms, some on walls and one on a paper towel dispenser, according to Catherine Esary, district spokeswoman.

Esary said police were immediately notified of the threats. The first was found Monday, a second on Tuesday and a third Thursday morning, Graham said.

"Throughout the investigation, APD has found the threats to be not credible," the district said in a statement around 8:40 a.m. Friday.

A fourth threat was found Thursday night, this one on a bathroom stall, Esary said.

There was as an added police presence at the school Friday in an attempt to find who was writing the threats, Graham said.

"It was a pretty big police presence, I understand, which kind of unnerved other folks," he said.

By Friday evening, police said the investigation was ongoing and there were no updates.

Classes were not canceled Friday at Dimond High, Esary said.

Some parents did decide to pick up their children, Graham said. On social media, some criticized the way the school and district handled the communication of the threatening messages.

Anchorage Schools Superintendent Deena Bishop said the district never believed students were in danger. If the district had, classes would not have continued, she said. She underscored that the threats are a crime.

"We want the police to be there to help us solve this crime," she said.

Anchorage police were continuing to investigate "a possible threat against Dimond High School," according to a statement from Kendra Doshier, a police spokeswoman.

"Safety is our number one priority. We take every threat seriously and will take every precaution possible in order to ensure the safety of our community and our schools," she said. "Any threat is a criminal matter, and we will make sure that those responsible are held accountable."

In response to questions, Doshier said in an email: "We're not getting into the details of the threat. What I can say is that we're thoroughly investigating and we take every threat seriously."

Dimond High principal Tina Johnson-Harris said in an email to parents Friday that school staff had kept students in their first-hour classes for an extended time that morning.

"In an effort to allow APD to work more quickly and uninterrupted, we may have inadvertently created more worry instead of less," she said. "As the day progresses, we will limit hall passes during class time to continue our efforts in identifying the person(s) disrupting our learning environment at Dimond High."

According to Esary, Johnson-Harris sent emails to parents about the threats on Monday, Thursday and Friday.

In Monday's email, Johnson-Harris said that the threat found that day, scrawled on a bathroom towel dispenser read: "I'm shooting up the school, I'm not joking. I have a gun in my lock."

Police and school administration investigated, "and it was found to NOT be a credible threat," Johnson-Harris said in the email.

"This writing was shared on social media, however, and therefore it has worried students and parents in the community," she said.

In Thursday's email, she said "similar messages" were discovered in other bathrooms Tuesday and Thursday.

"The messages were removed immediately upon discovery," she said. "We are continuing to work with APD to identify the individual(s) responsible to ensure the safety of the schools for our students and staff."

Johnson-Harris has asked anyone with information to come forward.

"ASD takes all threats seriously and students who make threats to the school face serious consequences for their actions," she said in the email Friday.

A message for Dimond families and the entire District: Once again, we find ourselves with another graffiti message on...

Posted by Anchorage School District on Friday, November 9, 2018

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