Graffiti threat leads to modified lockdown status at Howard High

December 19, 2003|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Howard High School in Ellicott City will be on "modified lockdown" -- a security status last used during the sniper attacks -- while police investigate the source of graffiti that threatened to harm students today.

Officers said they discovered a menacing message yesterday on the door of an apartment complex in the 8800 block of Flowerstock Row in Columbia, but would not elaborate on its content.

"That's all we can say right now. I don't want to compromise the investigation," duty Officer Robert Ackley of the Howard County police said last night.

The vague nature of the information and the school's modified lockdown response -- during which exterior doors are locked and outdoor activities canceled -- has families worried.

"I can tell you as a parent, you want the facts," said Howard PTA President Jerry Bialecki. "It's just crazy when you don't know what's going on."

Bialecki said he was considering keeping his children home from school.

"The police are taking this and considering it very real. We as parents should do the same," he said.

But Ackley said keeping kids home might be overly cautious.

"I've got several [at Howard]," Ackley said. "They're all going."

School system spokeswoman Patti Caplan said officials take all threats seriously, but no one should overreact.

"The precautions we're putting into place at Howard tomorrow are just that: precautions," she said.

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