(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) Washington-Lee High School is in “secure the building” mode as police investigate a threat.
“At approximately 12:07 p.m., police responded to the report of a telephone threat received at W-L,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The school has been secured as police investigate.”
Initial reports suggest the school received calls claiming to be from an expelled or suspended student, threatening violence. While police investigate the threat, officers and school employees are taking precautions.
“Staff are at every door to monitor people coming to the school,” said Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman Linda Erdos. “Police are investigating. Classes are going on as scheduled.”
A heavy police presence could be seen around the school around lunchtime today. The W-L pool was closed to members of the public while the school was secured.
Dismissal is occurring as scheduled at Washington-Lee High School. The investigation into the phone threat is ongoing.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) October 10, 2017
That’s what reportedly happened to one woman in Arlington yesterday afternoon.
Except the terror quickly gave way to relief when the woman’s dad called and said he was fine — while she was gathering the ransom payment. Police are now investigating the incident.
From an Arlington County Police crime report:
ATTEMPT FRAUD, 161006026, 300 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 2:58 p.m. on October 6, police were dispatched to the report of attempted fraud and telephone threats. The female victim received a phone call at approximately 12:48 p.m. from an unknown caller stating he had kidnapped and would kill her father unless she provided him with money. While attempting to retrieve funds, the victim’s father called her place of employment advising that he was not in danger. The victim then ended the call and contacted police. The investigation is ongoing.
Hoax social media posts, often featuring images of sinister-looking clowns, have threatened schools across the country. Thus far the posts have led to numerous arrests of teens suspected of making the threats, but no reported violence.
Last night, two Instagram accounts — @virginiaclowns and @dmv_clowns — posted similar threats, warning of shootings at a number of area schools, including Kenmore, Gunston and Thomas Jefferson middle schools in Arlington.
The threats have prompted a stepped-up police presence at Arlington schools this morning.
“We are aware [of the threats] and were in contact with the Arlington Police Department staff last night when we saw the messages,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “As a precaution, ACPD has had an increased presence at our schools this morning.”
Alarmed parents found out about the possible threat via two emails from Arlington Public Schools, fueling a rumor mill. However, police say they interviewed “several students” and determined there is no actual threat to the school.
“It was some graffiti that could be viewed as potentially threatening,” Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told ARLnow.com. “At this point we have determined that it was more of a prank than a threat… a joke that was not very funny.”
In an email sent Wednesday,Williamsburg principal Dr. Ann McCarty informed parents about vandalism in boys restrooms. The vandalism included “urination in the heating pipes and inappropriate writing on the walls,” including “a direct threat to the school.”
We are writing to you today to let you know of an ongoing problem of vandalism that has been happening in our boys restrooms over the past weeks. We have had problems with urination in the heating pipes and inappropriate writing on the walls. However, today marked what we are deeming to be a serious incident given the content of the defacing. Today’s message involves a direct threat to the school. We are considering this incident to be serious and will be fully investigating in conjunction with our ACPD School Resource Officer. All APS policies will be enforced appropriately. We will address this issue at school, but we also ask that you assist us in having a conversation with your children about appropriate bathroom etiquette. Your assistance will help us with keeping our school safe and maintaining an orderly environment.
This afternoon (Thursday), McCarty revealed that there will be an additional police presence at the school on Friday, even while downplaying rumors that the the threat involved something that was supposed to happen on Friday, Feb. 20.
Dear Williamsburg Families,
We would like to thank everyone who came forward in our investigation after yesterday’s email. Please understand that because this has been a police matter from the start and we are required to maintain student confidentiality, no specific details were shared. This was not intended to keep parents out of the loop; instead, it was to protect the fidelity of our investigation and to maintain confidentiality.
First, I would like to address the misinformation that is currently circulating in the community. Please know that original threat was not for Friday, February 20, and we have no reason to believe that there is a heightened risk for student safety tomorrow. However, to be proactive, we will have additional police presence at the school.
I also wanted to let you know that our investigation has provided us with the much-needed information to move forward and address the student(s) who we believe were involved. As a result of the investigation, at this time we do not believe that a threat exists to Williamsburg.
Finally, we will continue to monitor any and all safety concerns here at Williamsburg. The protection of our students and the entire Williamsburg community is always our top priority. We utilize all of our available resources, including the Arlington County Police Department, to ensure student safety.
We appreciate your patience and support as we have worked through this police investigation, and I want to thank everyone who helped us with information.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.
Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia declined comment.
A sheriff’s deputy approached the 39-year-old man’s apartment around noon in an attempt to serve an eviction notice. According to police, the man threatened the deputy, as well as himself, and then barricaded himself in the apartment.
Police evacuated the neighboring apartments and set up a command post in one of the units, where they were able to talk with the man on the phone. The man came out of his apartment more than an hour later and police took him into custody. He was transported to Virginia Hospital Center for a mental evaluation.
Once the man exited his apartment, police searched it and found the shotgun the man had referred to when threatening the sheriff’s deputy.
It is unclear if the man will be charged. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
Photo courtesy @vtspaeth
In this week’s Arlington County crime report, a female escort is robbed by a man with a gun, and a man who threatened to get his gun is Tasered by police.
ROBBERY 12/08/10, 1200 block of N. Glebe Road. On December 8 at 12:15 pm, a man brandished a handgun and robbed a female escort in a hotel room. The suspect is described as an African American male, 5’9’ with a medium build. He was wearing a white shirt, black pants and black shoes.
ASSAULT ON POLICE-ARREST 12/14/10, 1200 block of S. Nash Street. On December 14 at 11:30 pm, a police officer towed a vehicle. The vehicle owner threatened to get a firearm from his residence, left the scene, and returned. When he did not comply with police commands, a tazer was deployed. John Pistolas, 47, of Arlington, was charged with Assault on Law Enforcement. He was held on a $1,000 bond.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
Arlington police are investigating a threatening letter sent to an official at Marymount University.
The letter was delivered to the Arlington campus over the Easter holiday but was discovered Wednesday afternoon.
“Our campus safety staff is aware of it, and proper security policies are in place and being followed,” said Shelley Dutton, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the university. She declined to reveal what sort of threat was made or who it was sent to, citing the ongoing police investigation.
Dutton said she could not recall any previous instances of threats made against university administrators.
Update at 9:30 a.m. — The school and the aquatic center have reopened after getting the “all clear” from police.
An unspecified threat at Washington-Lee High School has prompted officials to cancel all after-school activities at the high school, including adult education classes. The W-L aquatic center has also been closed.
Administrators learned of the threat this afternoon, school officials said in an email. Police investigated and determined that there was no imminent danger to students and staff.
The building was closed at 3:00 p.m., immediately after classes ended. Police are now conducting a more thorough search of the building.
Arlington Public Schools will announce whether there will be any further cancellations early tomorrow morning. The W-L aquatics center will open at 6:30 a.m., at the earliest, the school system said.