AP NEWS

Police: School Cleared Due to Rumor

February 28, 2019

TEWKSBURY -- Police are investigating an anonymous message sent to a Wynn Middle School student that sparked a rumor of a possible school shooting and prompted police to clear the school Wednesday morning.

Tewksbury

Around 9 p.m. Tuesday, a Wynn student received an anonymous message on an app called Lipsi telling him not to go to school the next day.

The student responded asking why and if there was going to be a school shooting, according to Tewksbury Police Chief Timothy Sheehan.

The student then posted the exchange on Snapchat where it reached other Wynn Middle School students and came to the attention of some parents, according to Sheehan.

Concerned about the implications of the message and the rumor of a threatened school shooting, parents emailed the Wynne Middle School Principal John Weir, asking if it was safe for their children to attend school Wednesday.

When those emails were seen by school administration early Wednesday morning, Superintendent Chris Malone and Sheehan decided to divert students on their way to Wynn Middle School at 1 Griffin Road to Tewksbury High School on Pleasant Street, while police investigated.

The Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) School Threat Assesment and Response System (STARS) team, NEMLEC Canine team, Massachusetts State Police were called in to help search the school.

Students were allowed back into the school by around 11 a.m.

Tewksbury police maintained a presence at every Tewksbury school for the rest of the day.

“Even the anonymous poster never said anything about blowing up the school or shooting the school, all he said was don’t go to school tomorrow to this one student who reacted to that with ‘why shouldn’t I go to school are you coming to my school to shoot it up?’” said Sheehan.

According to Malone, the timing of when school administrators and police learned of the message early in the morning posed a challenge.

“We did not have the time to work closely with the Police Department to investigate that to make sure there was nothing there and also we did not have an opportunity to make sure the school was safe, and we wanted to do both out of an abundance of caution,” said Malone.

Police are investigating the message to identify the anonymous poster and determine what the message meant.