Gunn reviews safety protocols following online shooting threat

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Gunn reviews safety protocols following online shooting threat

Kaahini Jain, News Editor

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Gunn High School reviews their safety and online behavior protocols with students and staff after a 14 year-old student allegedly posted a comment on the Palo Alto Police Department’s Instagram page saying they were going to “shoot up” the school. “Gunn High School was prepared to help with the health and wellbeing of all students who may have had any anxiety or fear based on the perceived threat,” Gunn Assistant Principal Michalis Gordon said. Photo: Kaahini Jain

After receiving shooting threats by a 14 year-old student late last month, Gunn High School has responded by reviewing safety drills with students and staff as well as offering extra wellness services.

“Gunn High School was prepared to help with the health and wellbeing of all students who may have had any anxiety or fear based on the perceived threat,” Gunn Assistant Principal Michalis Gordon stated in an email on Friday to The Paly Voice. “We placed extra staff on hand in our Wellness Center for the day.”

As has Palo Alto High School just across town, Gunn has practiced lockdown and emergency procedures following the threat, as well as reviewed the digital citizen protocols with staff and students, according to Gordon.

The Gunn student, whose gender has been unidentified, was linked to an account leaving threatening messages on the Palo Alto Police Department Instagram account. The police noticed these comments around 6 p.m. on the day of the incident which said the user had intent to “shoot up” the high school, according to the PAPD’s press release posted on Aug. 30.

The press release said that officers showed up to the student’s home around 8:40 p.m. and took the student in for a mental health evaluation. After searching the student’s home, the initial investigation determined the threats to be unfounded and no weapons were discovered.

While the police department believes that the student had no intention to carry out the threats, the police report noted that threats such as these “are not only criminal in nature, but can also create a great deal of stress and anxiety for students, parents, school staff, and the community in general.”

The PAPD was the first one to notice these comments and it is still unknown whether other students or community members knew about this prior to the police, as no calls or comments were made to report it, according to the press release.

“Throughout the investigation, we worked in close collaboration with officials from the Palo Alto Unified School District,” the police report stated. 

According to the PAUSD Promise, safety is a main focus of this year’s school board, and additional funding has been approved for district positions to oversee the safety of the PAUSD schools. There are also plans to add cameras and other safety devices to some campuses.

Palo Alto High School experienced a similar situation last school year after a phoned in threat was made directly to 911. The school went quickly on lockdown and no violence occurred, according to a Paly Voice article.

“We are feeling very safe and appreciate the coordinated effort with PAPD and the District for its quick and tempered response,” Gordon stated.