On Tuesday, Nov. 7, at around 1:00 p.m., an anonymous shooting threat was made in the form of a written message in the upstairs girls’ bathroom of Tamalpais High School (Tam).
According to Tam senior Jack Loder, the picture read, “I’m going to kill everyone in this f***ing school tomorrow. I’m f***ing done with everything.”
“This was during our fourth period at the end of the day, so everyone was talking, saying ‘Should we come to school tomorrow? If we don’t come to school tomorrow then we let this person win, but if we do, I don’t want to die,’” Loder said.
Loder said Principal J.C. Farr sent out an email to the Tam community about the threat, which states that the school would commence the next day with heightened security measures in place.
Farr wrote in the email on Tuesday, “If, at any time, law enforcement advises us to cancel classes, [parents, students and staff] will receive immediate notification via text, email, website, Twitter and Facebook.”
Law enforcement members were on hand to lend Tam support, walk the halls, check the bathrooms and ultimately ensure a safe learning environment for the students and staff, according to Farr.
“Initially, when we received the report of the graffiti, we immediately notified the Mill Valley Police Department and we asked them to come in and do an assessment of the threat, take a look at it and see what their thoughts were,” Farr said. “And then from there we had a discussion about how we would proceed, would we close school, would we continue, how credible we felt the threat was, would we be putting anyone at risk.”
Because of Tam’s proximity to Redwood, Farr believes that the threat was influenced by recent events at the neighboring school community.
“Once students see these kinds of things, there is a response,” Farr said. “Whether it be good or bad, there is a response to threats, it does change things. It’s a disruption to the school environment. It maybe puts people on edge who are dealing with something related.”
Tam senior Sawyer Shine said that although he figured it was an empty threat he took it seriously.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to close down school for that because we really can’t have it be that easy for a student to just write something on a wall and then bam, there goes the entire day of school,” Shine said. “I just think that’s a little silly and I don’t think we should let little writing in the bathroom dictate what we’re going to do with our lives.”
There were about fifteen to twenty police officers on campus that day, according to Loder.
“Personally, on Wednesday, I would forget about it most of the day, but then someone would remind me of it, and I would be like, ‘That could happen at any moment,’ so that would make me think,” Loder said. “I was never actually worried because obviously the likelihood of it being real was so slim. Especially if someone was going to do that, he or she wouldn’t call attention to it the day before.”
Loder said that although he didn’t take the threat seriously, this behavior needs to stop.
“I’m sure that the driving incentive is to have school canceled. These are immature and insensitive people that are trying to get out of school,” Loder said.
Loder thinks that these threats are outliers and the trend will pass, but still needs to be taken seriously.
“Especially in this day and age where gun violence in this country is such an epidemic, with all these mass shootings happening, why wouldn’t this be taken seriously?” Loder said. “It has become a norm in our country that people get gunned down every day and nothing is done about it.”
According to Farr, there are a few things that Tam can do now to ensure safety for all students and staff, including reviewing safety protocols, increasing familiarity with emergency response systems and providing students with support.
Farr believes that when a student commits an act like this, there is a need for support that is filled.
“We have to do a good job of reaching out to all of our students, making sure that we are building a safe, inclusive environment where all students feel welcome,” Farr said. “When a student is maybe going through something we want be able to have access to support rather than writing graffiti on the wall or even having the thought.”