AURORA | Despite a blizzard of concerns on social media overnight Wednesday, school officials said a series of school computer hackings and threats to shoot a Rangeview High School teacher in front of his students and bomb the school weren’t credible, and that school would be open today.
Teachers last night said they were pondering a “sickout” today over concerns that despite efforts by the school, the student making the threat hadn’t been identified, and that it was unclear what level of police investigation determined the level of danger to staff and students.
Last night, students, too, think they might be targeted and are passing social media messages to each other, telling each other they’re afraid.
“This teacher is scared to death, ” one fellow teacher said, asking not to be identified because the source was not authorized to speak to the media about the issue.
It’s unclear when threats started. One teacher said the first threat was Monday, but that additional threats may have come Wednesday.
“Did I ever tell you how gay you are and I f****** hate you – you can go die somewhere you f****** bitch I will come in your class and kill you right in front of all the kids I dont f****** care if they see,” the student said in the email. The email was sent to the Sentinel and is apparently moving to many school employees. “I hacked your email thats why I am sending you this to yourself for proof I told you not to make us do work but you didn’t do what I said so this is just getting started next pizza will come to your house them the cops will come and more stuff will happen so dont make us do work this is the LAST time I am saying this and here’s a link to all your info (LINK WITHHELD BY THE SENTINEL) so remember I am watching you in 7th but who I am you will see find out hahahahah.”
The student also used email to threaten a bomb for Thursday, the last day of the quarter.
APS spokeswoman Patti Moon said Wednesday night both APS and Aurora police investigated the threat at Rangeview and both deemed it not credible. But officials have not been able to identify the student who hacked the system or made the threats.
Police on Wednesday did not say who on the police force or what level of investigation was conducted and deferred comment to the school district.
School is scheduled to go forward as planned Thursday, Moon said.
Still, she added, there will be extra district security and extra police both at the school and in the area Thursday as a precaution.
“Obviously we take any threat like this very seriously,” Moon said.
Aurora police referred comment to APS school officials.
Teachers said that in light of recent shooting events involving students, the district and school needed to be forthcoming and clear about the incident, and haven’t been. Teachers talking with the Aurora Sentinel said the threatened teacher was unclear why the threat was deemed not credible and would not attend school, especially since the student had been able to avoid detection.
Numerous parents are now asking why the school said nothing to them when so many teachers and some students were aware of the threats.
Sources said that a student had hacked into the teacher’s email account and used it to send three threats this week to the same account. The student said he or she was angry about being given work by the instructor. The student provided a host of personal information about the teacher, including a home address, saying he had hacked the school system’s computers to retrieve it, according to sources.
One teacher said school officials tried to “triangulate” clues and narrowed students suspected of the threats to 16 kids and interviewed them. The teacher said that was inconclusive and officials still did know which student had made the threats.
Word of the threat was spreading among teachers, prompting some to contact the media and suggest a sickout if the student isn’t identified and apprehended. Students from Rangeview and other APS schools also posted comments on social media about a possible shooting on Thursday.
The message was graphic and menacing, saying that the student would get into the classroom and shoot the teacher dead in front of his students, and that the teacher wouldn’t know who the student was until a gun was pulled.
Teachers said it appears the same student hacked into other personal information and contacted at least three other teachers, making similar threats, mostly focused on bombing the school and making clear the student knew where they lived.
Teachers said that in light of the Aurora theater shooting and most recently the mass shooting at a community college at Roseburg, Oregon, last week, any threat — especially one this contrived and specific — warranted immediate investigation.
Sources said a fellow teacher with computer experience tried to track down the student unsuccessfully. School officials pulled in the Aurora Police school resource officers assigned to the school to assist them, but no one was able to track down the student’s identity.
Teachers said they’re afraid for themselves as well as other students, and they questions why there weren’t outside sources brought in to find the person. If school officials don’t close school tomorrow, the school may be overwhelmed by calling in sick early Thursday.