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Threat left on bathroom wall cancels classes at Northwest Schools on Tuesday, Feb. 21

JACKSON COUNTY, MI – All classes at Northwest Community Schools have been canceled Tuesday, Feb. 21, after someone found a shooting threat written on a wall in a boys’ bathroom.

After school was dismissed on Tuesday, Feb. 14, Northwest High School administrators were told of the concerning graffiti in a boy’s bathroom that stated, “I’m going to shoot everyone on the 21st,” according to a notice from the school district.

Administrators, working with the Blackman-Leoni Department of Public Safety and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, reviewed surveillance video and interviewed and searched students who were in the bathroom prior to being notified of the written threat. Administrators also followed up on tips from community members.

As of Monday, Feb. 20, no weapons or other concerning items have been found in the district as a result of the searches, and the person responsible for the message has not yet been identified, school officials said.

Due to the reference of “the 21st,” and the recent mass shooting at Michigan State University, administrators said they made the decision to cancel school for all Northwest Community Schools buildings on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution.

Related: On a campus shattered by violence, MSU students try to resume routines

Police are continuing to investigate the matter.

“We want to make sure that students, staff, and families feel safe coming to school and we work diligently to ensure student safety through policies, procedures, and working closely with local law enforcement on all concerning situations.” Superintendent Geoff Bontrager wrote in the message on the district website.

“Please know, the monitoring of our bathrooms has increased since this incident and additional steps will be taken moving forward.”

Behavior that threatens staff and students’ safety and well-being will not be tolerated, Bontrager said, adding that those found responsible for such behavior will be held accountable to the greatest extent possible.

Charges a person could receive for threatening a school, according to Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel, include communicating a threat of terrorism, which is a 20-year felony.

“Given the threat and what recently happened at MSU, we will have a heavy police presence at the school until further notice,” Blackman-Leoni Department of Public Safety Deputy Chief Chris Boulter said.

After school activities will continue as normal with police presence on Tuesday and school will resume for all buildings on Wednesday, Feb 22, with increased police presence through the end of the week.

Anyone who sees something out of the ordinary or concerning is asked to report it as soon as possible. Suspicious activity can be reported anonymously to the school tip line, on the NWCS app or the NW website. Suspicious activity can also be reported anonymously to Michigan’s OK2Say.

“We appreciate all the help from our staff, students, and community to make our schools a safe place to learn,” Bontrager said. “Please remember, we all play a role in sustaining a safe learning environment for our kids and believe that safety is a team effort.”

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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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