Update Thursday 3:00pm: Greenwich Police Lt Slusarz told reporters on Thursday that it is premature to talk about the details of the investigation into Wednesday’s incident at Western Middle School involving a student locating a written statement regarding another party bringing a weapon into a school in the future.
“Since Columbine we’ve been really proactive and ahead of the game with developing strategies to prevent and prepare for the big one, in case something like that happens,” Slusarz said. “We’ve developed, along with the schools, a strategy that addresses all the links in the chain as far as what could go wrong. In the event we get even a small indication somebody may be thinking or thinks someone may be thinking of doing harm to the community, there’s a mechanism to identify it and divert it long before a tragedy.”
“The protocol worked this time,” he said. “The faculty and staff did a great job and should be commended.”
Original story Wednesday 10:30pm: Western Middle School principal Gordon Beinstein emailed families on Wednesday to tell them that early in the afternoon he learned that a student located a written statement regarding another party bringing a weapon into a school in the future.
“The situation is being addressed, law enforcement is actively investigating, and all administrative procedures consistent with board policy are being followed,” he wrote, adding, “The safety and security of our students is our ultimate priority. We take ANY potential threats with the utmost seriousness.”
Beinstein said that based on the information early in the school day there was no indication of an actual threat and that students were safe.
After police left Beinstein sent a follow up email to families to provide more specific information.
Unfortunately he said, because the situation was part of an active investigation involving a minor, he couldn’t be too specific.
“I can tell you that we had an impressive police presence here within minutes and that they stayed throughout the rest of the day, working with the WMS administration on the investigation and our response,” he wrote.
Beinstein said the district administration was fully briefed and involved and that the information on the student statement regarding a weapon came from students as well as via the school’s ‘gaggle alert’ system, which picked up a student sharing what he read, via email.
“That is how this is supposed to work,” Beinstein wrote. “If you see something, say something.”
“Although the authorities have determined this to be a ‘comment of concern’ as opposed to an ‘imminent threat’, we are operating under an abundance of caution,” Beinstein assured families.
Lastly, Beinstein said police will remain present on campus at WMS on Thursday and stay for International Night.
Beinstein said that coincidentally, the school ran a lockdown drill on Tuesday, which provided an opportunity to review procedures with staff and students.
Beinstein concluded by saying there is nothing more important to him than the safety of the children at WMS.
“The Latin term is ‘in loco parentis’ meaning: in place of the parents. While your children are here, they are OUR children, and we will care for them as such,” he said. “I don’t just say this simply as your child’s principal, I say this as a parent with a child in this school.”