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Police: 'No Credible Threat' to Gun Rumors at Centreville High, Westfield High

Threats are similar to instances of rumors cited at schools around the nation, in wake of Connecticut school shootings.

Students at two Fairfax County high schools have reported rumors to parents and police that students may come to school with guns on Friday. 

But Fairfax County Police say there is nothing to the rumors.

"We are looking into it and it appears there are no credible threats," said Officer Shelley Broderick, public information officer with the Fairfax County Police Department.

The rumors have parents worried.

"My child came home from Westfield High School today and told me that a rumor is going around that there are two boys planning on coming to school on Friday with guns and planning to shoot anyone they don't like since the world is ending on Friday," one parent wrote in an email to Patch.

"In light of the recent shootings in Connecticut obviously we're all concerned and as a parent feel it is important to share this, as I'm quite concerned."

Another parent wrote: "There is a rumor all over Centreville High School about a shooting planned for Friday by a girl. There is a similar rumor at Westfield High School. This has been circulating by social media, as well. I called 911, and the 911 operator said that they have received calls from several students about this rumor."

Centreville High School principal Martin Grimm sent a letter out to parents:

A message from CENTREVILLE HS

Dear Parents and Guardians, 

We understand there are ongoing questions and concerns in the community this week about school safety. We are aware of the concerns that several parents and students have raised. CVHS Security and the School Resource Officer are addressing every concern that is brought to the school’s attention. In addition, we have consulted with Fairfax Police and FCPS Safety and Security personnel to assess and implement any additional security measures that are necessary in order to maintain a safe and secure learning environment. Social media platforms are wonderful communication tools when used appropriately. However, those same tools become counterproductive when used to spread unfounded rumors and misinformation. As you know, Fairfax Police have increased their presence and visibility around all FCPS schools and we are very appreciative of those efforts. We spend considerable time and effort in planning and practicing safety and security measures appropriate for a major critical incident and we will remain vigilant about protecting students and staff. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call the school at 703-502-5400. 

Sincerely, 
Martin Grimm 
Principal 

Fairfax County Police started beefing up patrols of area schools on Monday, in light of the shootings in Connecticut.

Live in the area? Keep up with local news with the Centreville and Chantilly Patch email newsletters. 

John Van Sickle December 20, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Mr. Grimm - Well said...
John Van Sickle December 20, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I teach evening classes at Chantilly-It was nice to see FCP sitting at the parking lot-when students were dismissed at 9:30 PM.
lisa abrahams December 20, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Westfield received the exact same letter and as a parent of two students who attend there, I gotta say I'm disgusted with this letter. It's a very vague letter that said nothing about the rumors if a potential shooting on Friday. The letter left me with no information at all except that school security had been increased due to the recent shooting in Newtown. I want to be able to make an informed decision on if I should send my boys to school and that letter made it sound safe. Had I not already heard about the rumor about Friday, I would have thought this was just a letter in regards to security because of Newtown, not because of a rumored shooting at our school that was to take place on Friday. I was at the school yesterday for a conference and I noticed immediatley that I was able to walk in and stand around for 15mins before anyone said anything to me. I was NEVER asked for ID to prove who I was or questioned why I was there. So I ask.... Where is all this extra security and why were the doors unlocked, why was I able to walk around for so long and why wasn't I asked for ID????? In my opinion.... This letter is just that.... Words written on paper with no action backing it up. Lisa A.
Katherine Lerche December 20, 2012 at 08:33 PM
I totally agree that the Westfield letter was very vague. My son came home saying he doesn't want to go to school tomorrow and it was then I came up with the real reason for the letter. The school had to have known kids would tell their parents. This is scary to say the least.
Robin Dunning December 20, 2012 at 08:46 PM
We need a specific update today regarding police activity at CVHS today.
Mary Stachyra Lopez December 20, 2012 at 08:50 PM
What kind of police activity?
Robin Dunning December 20, 2012 at 09:48 PM
They should address the increased police presence at the school today and questioning of students - did this lead to anything? Kids are very nervous and "chatter" seems worse. If they are looking into a specific threat for Friday, parents should know about it. If the questioning today amounted to nothing, we should be told that as well.
Patrick December 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I don't have children at either of the high schools in question but I do have children that will be entering the school system soon so i can certainly empathyze with the concerns that I'm reading on here. While I would love to know every detail of the security plan that the schools that I'm sending my kids to are implementing it is kind of a double edged sword in that putting the information out to ease the minds of the parents is also putting that information out for the potential assailant to better plan his/her attack. If they come out and say that they're putting 6 police officers on the grounds and they'll be standing at every entrance of the building then the attacker knows exactly how many officers he or she is up against and where to find them. I cannot imagine that a principal who is charged with protecting so many children would write off so specific a threat in the wake of the tragedy in CT. This is not to say that there is no cause for concern so much as it is to say that just because you don't know the plan doesn't meant that there isn't one. Not a comforting thought for a parent at all I know but a necessary evil if the risk is to be mitigated.
Tracy December 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM
It doesn't help worried parents that the phone number in the letter is incorrect. No one answers.
susan mcclanahan December 21, 2012 at 01:31 PM
The number should be 703-802-5400.
CVHSParent December 21, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I agree with this view of the letter. I read it after hearing the rumor from my CVHS children and I was surprised of the vagueness of the letter. Had I not heard about the rumors, I would have dismissed the letter as a post-Newtown SOP communication. My kids were nervous about going to school this morning, but I had to walk that fine line of accommodating their concerns and being extra cautious in this world we live in and teaching them not to live in fear over every rumor they hear. When I drove them to school this morning, I was unnerved to see several police cars (one with lights flashing at the entrance to the student parking lot, as if to say "we're in full force here, don't try anything"). One might take comfort in that, but what it said to me, coupled with that letter, was "we don't really know what may or may not happen any more than the kids do." I remember irrational fears in the wake of 9/11 and the sniper, and some of that is coming into play here and why I made the decision to send my kids to school to face down their fears over rumors, but I do appreciate the fact that not acting on certain things could be disastrous too.
Michael Josef Basl December 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM
http://www.michaeljosefbasl.blogspot.com
Peter Pfeiffer December 21, 2012 at 09:05 PM
The letter effectively addressed RUMORS on social media. I fully trust our school resource officers (they are armed uniform police officers). The information sent effectively addresses saftey concerns. I certainly don't think sending specifics about a security plan is sound practice since the details might just undermine a valid plan.

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