High School locks down twice after threats were uncovered

Hoax notes are being investigated by Weehawken PD

Weehawken High School students sheltered in place during lock-downs.
Weehawken High School students sheltered in place during lock-downs.

A series of threatening notes over the past few weeks prompted Weehawken High School to follow “shelter in place” protocols. These procedures are standard lock-downs in which all classrooms are locked and students are required to stay in place until responding police officers determine that students and faculty are not at risk. During a shelter-in-place, no one is allowed in or out of the building.

Investigations are still underway to determine the source of threats against the school district. The first occurred on the morning of Jan. 29, and the second on Feb. 1.

According to Dr. Terrance Brennan, interim superintendent of schools, the Weehawken Police Department was called when two threatening notes were discovered in separate locations on the morning of Jan. 29.

Content of notes not disclosed 

What was written on the notes hasn’t been released, because they are still evidence in a police investigation, but the messages reportedly posed a broad threat to the high school.

Students spent most of the school day on Tuesday, Jan. 29, locked in their classrooms, while police performed a search in every room of the high school as well as the outside perimeter. The department’s investigation determined that the threatening messages from that morning were not credible.

“No one other than law enforcement personnel were allowed in and out of the building for the duration of the shelter in place,” Brennan said. “Police were posted in every hallway. Detectives interviewed potential witnesses and rigorously and repeatedly searched all rooms and floors of the school building.”

Following the discovery of the first notes, all bags brought into the high school were subject to search throughout the rest of the week; students were checked with metal detector wands, a practice that Brennan said will continue indefinitely.

School personnel monitored the hallways and bathrooms throughout the week; a third note was found four days later outside a girls’ restroom on the first floor on the morning of Friday, Feb. 1.

This led to another 90-minute lock-down, but the threat was determined to be a hoax like those earlier in the week.

“The person or persons responsible for making these threats will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” — Terrance Brennan

Investigations and increased presence

While the person or people who wrote the notes have not yet been found, investigations are still underway to determine the source of the disruption.

“Be assured that the Weehawken Police Department, including its detective bureau and juvenile bureau has made substantial progress in its investigation to find and hold accountable the perpetrator or perpetrators of the threats,” Brennan said in a statement. “Know that once found, the person or persons responsible for making these threats will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and the strictest administrative repercussions will be leveled against those found guilty.”

Brennan said the district will install additional security cameras throughout the school, in addition to the ones installed in last year’s $16,000,000 security upgrade which was passed in a construction referendum in 2018.

Brennan said that Weehawken High School’s intra- and extracurricular activities will operate on their usual schedules throughout the next few weeks with additional security during and after school sessions.

Those with information pertaining to the incident are urged to call the Weehawken Detective Bureau at 201-319-6044.

For updates on this and other stories keep checking www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mike Montemarano can be reached at mikem@hudsonreporter.com.