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UPDATED: Anonymous threat prompts lockdown, evacuations at Yorktown High School

Update at 4:15 p.m. on 2/11/22 — Arlington police have released more information about the threat. Police say an anonymous caller claimed to be armed with hostages inside one of the Yorktown High School bathroom, in what was later determined to be a false report. From ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department continues to investigate a telephone threat to Yorktown High School. At approximately 1:26 p.m. on February 10, police were dispatched to the 5200 block of Yorktown Boulevard for the report of a threat. The reporting party advised dispatch that the Main Office had received an anonymous call from the suspect who was alleging to be a student and making threats to ‘shoot up’ the school. The school was placed on lockdown as police responded to investigate the credibility of the threat.

Upon arrival, officers made telephone contact with the suspect who reported he was armed, had taken two hostages inside a bathroom in the school and was making threats to harm them. A perimeter was established and officers searched the school’s bathrooms and found no evidence of the suspect’s claims. Officers then completed a cautionary search of the school and evacuated students who were transported by bus to a nearby location for parent reunification. No injuries were reported and no evidence of a crime was located inside the school.

“Yesterday’s response highlights how seriously the Arlington County Police Department takes reports of potential violence within our community,” said Chief Andy Penn. “I commend our officers and public safety partners on their immediate and coordinated response to ensure the safety of our community. I recognize incidents involving threats have significant impacts on the wellbeing of all involved. I want to thank the Yorktown High School students, staff, parents and community members for their patience and support during yesterday’s incident. We will continue to work collaboratively with Arlington Public Schools to ensure the safety of students and staff.”

During the course of the investigation, officers determined the call originated from out of state and there was no credible threat to the safety and security of the students or staff. This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Earlier: A threat of violence prompted a lockdown, evacuations and a massive police response in and around Yorktown High School this afternoon.

As of 5:15 p.m. road closures were being lifted and police said they had completed clearing the school. “No evidence of a crime was located at the school,” ACPD said.

Police were first dispatched to the school around 1:45 p.m.

“YHS is on lockdown while ACPD investigate[s] an anonymous threat,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow at the time.

Arlington County police set up an incident command center outside of the school as dozens of emergency personnel started arriving. There was no report of any actual violence, though police investigated an unconfirmed report of a gun being found inside a bathroom.

“All students and staff are safe,” Yorktown families were told in a brief email early on.

An officer with a gun drawn inside the school could be seen in a photo shared with ARLnow. Numerous officers with rifles and tactical gear were seen entering the school. The incident was coordinated on ACPD’s encrypted radio channels.

Parents, some of whom gathered outside the school shortly after police arrived, were told to gather at the nearby Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road) to pick up their kids. Groups of students could be seen being led to the complex by police. Buses were brought in for students who usually take APS transportation.

Streets around the school were shut down, and the large response prompted police to re-prioritize some calls for minor issues while the fire department requested help filling fire stations, according to scanner traffic. Arlington firefighters and medics were dispatched to the school for a possible medical emergency and also to stage personnel at both the school and the Knights of Columbus, in case of injuries or other medical emergencies.

A number of rumors circulating among students, parents and school staff about whether a suspect or a weapon had been located inside the school, and whether a suspect is or is not in custody. Police, some heavily armed, continued to enter and exit the building into the early evening. An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman said officers were searching the building and there is not a barricade situation in the school, as some rumors have suggested.

“Police remain on scene conducting a cautionary search of the building,” ACPD’s Ashley Savage told ARLnow just before 3:30 p.m.

Bellavia, the APS spokesman, confirmed to ARLnow that during the incident several nearby schools — Discovery Elementary, Williamsburg  Middle and Nottingham Elementary — were placed into “secure the school mode” as a precaution.

More school threats, meanwhile, were reported elsewhere in the D.C. area today, including at least four in the District this morning and more in Prince George’s County. Savage said there is no known link between those threats and the Yorktown incident.

“No identified link to other incidents at this time,” she said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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