County schools office gets threatening call

Male caller said teachers were being shot

police determine report fake

March 08, 2001|By Laura Barnhardt and Stephanie Desmon | Laura Barnhardt and Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

As police investigated school shootings in other areas, police raced to three north county schools yesterday after the Anne Arundel County school district office received a threatening telephone call.

The male caller, who contacted the central office about 10:30 a.m., said that as he spoke, teachers were being shot at the three schools.

After a few tense moments, police quickly determined the report was false, said Officer Charles Ravenell, a department spokesman.

All was quiet at Glendale Elementary School in Glen Burnie and Hilltop Elementary School and North County Senior High School in Ferndale, but school officials sent administrative staff to the three schools for assistance.

Police were trying to determine who called the county schools central office and falsely reported the shootings, Ravenell said.

Police will be present at the schools the rest of the week as a precaution.

The incident was not discussed publicly at yesterday's school board meeting, but during a news conference later, school officials said they had not decided if they would be sending letters home with students.

While there have been threats in the past, "it spikes whenever these things happen," said Kenneth P. Lawson, associate superintendent.

The police took the threat seriously, he said. "We had to err on the side of safety."

Meanwhile, an eighth-grade girl shot a 13-year-old female classmate during lunch yesterday at a Roman Catholic school in Williamsport, Pa., before being subdued by a school administrator, officials said.

The victim was shot once in the upper body, but her injuries were not considered life-threatening, said Maria Orzel, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Scranton.

In Maryland, a teen-ager was shot in front of Largo High School on Tuesday, Prince George's County police said.

Police Chief John Farrell said the 17-year-old victim, who was not a Largo student, was shot about 5 p.m. outside the school's main entrance. The teen-ager, who was not identified, was treated for nonlife-threatening injuries at Prince George's Hospital Center.

The violence in Maryland and Pennsylvania came days after two people were killed and 13 wounded in a high school shooting in Santee, Calif. Fifteen-year-old Charles Andrew Williams, who is accused in that shooting, lived in Frederick County, Md., before moving to California last year with his father.

Since January, uniformed, armed police officers have been stationed in seven of Anne Arundel County's most troubled middle schools, following a national trend of bringing law enforcement into the hallways. An $875,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will pay for the officers to spend the next three years upholding the law on campus, and aiding in counseling, mentoring and teaching at the schools.

The seven Anne Arundel schools - Annapolis, Bates, Corkran, MacArthur, Marley and Meade middle schools and the Learning Center, an alternative program for middle-schoolers - each received one veteran Anne Arundel County police officer.

Baltimore City schools have their own police force. Most large counties in Maryland have officers in some schools.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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