AP NEWS
Related topics

Police presence increased at Western Middle School as probe continues into note about weapon

March 1, 2018

GREENWICH — Police are continuing to investigate Thursday after a message was found written on a desk Wednesday at Western Middle School about a weapon being brought to a school “in the future.”

On Thursday, Greenwich Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. John Slusarz confirmed the incident was still under investigation and said it would be “premature to release any specifics regarding it at this time.” No additional details about the message or whether any charges would be filed were released.

On Wednesday, WMS Principal Gordon Beinstein sent emails to parents Wednesday alerting them to the message while also assuring them that there was no indication of an actual threat to students or the school. The message was found in one of the school’s classrooms, and Beinstein said on Wednesday that police considered it a “comment of concern” as opposed to an “imminent threat.”

Slusarz did not say whether the person responsible for the message had been identified. In his emails to parents Wednesday, Beinstein said it involved a minor but did not give any more information.

He said the information came to the attention of school officials through students as well as through the district’s “Gaggle alert” student safety software program, which monitors district-issued student Gmail accounts for “trigger words” that could indicate a cause for concern.

No details were released about the nature of the weapon mentioned in the message or whether the message was in regard to Western or another school.

Slusarz praised the school’s reaction.

“The proactive procedures developed and implemented by our partners at Western Middle School were successful in quickly identifying a potential issue,” Slusarz said. “This issue was immediately addressed through the proper channels resulting in a positive outcome. Principal Beinstein and his facility and staff (are) commended for their performance.”

Western opened as scheduled Thursday, and there was no disruption of class on Wednesday. An increased police presence was in the building both Wednesday and Thursday, but Beinstein said Thursday morning it was not because of any active threat.

Beinstein read a statement to students at the start of school to students about the situation.

“We are looking into this and are taking it very seriously,” Beinstein told students. “We have an increased police presence in the building as a precaution and as a matter of protocol, not because you are in any way unsafe. Your safety is our primary concern.”

According to Beinstein, the school was, for the most part, sticking to its normal routines and schedule.

Some students had sought additional support, he said. School counselors were on hand to talk about any questions or concerns from students about what happened or about the issue of school violence.

“These are difficult times to comprehend for adults, let alone 11- to 14-year-olds,” Beinstein told the Greenwich Time on Thursday. “We are here to support them in whatever capacity they need.”

On Wednesday evening, Superintendent of Schools Jill Gildea said it was considered an active disciplinary matter. Gildea said the situation was handled with “an abundance of caution.”

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com