Threatening sign prompts lockdown at VHS

Threatening sign prompts lockdown at VHS By David Lias BREAKING NEWS: The first sign of something unusual going on at Vermillion High School was the large banner hanging from the roof above the commons early last Friday morning.

Suspicious happenings are continuing at the school, prompting administrators to increase security, make a call for help from local law enforcement, and declare a lockdown of the high school late Wednesday afternoon.

�What we�re doing today (Wednesday, Feb. 16) at 5:30 p.m. is a complete sweep of the high school,� Vermillion High School Principal Curt Cameron said. �We�re going to shut it down, law enforcement is coming, and we�ll conduct the sweep.�

Prompting the lockdown is the third, and most threatening, suspicious message to be found at the school.

The first sign, the banner hanging near the main entrance to the school, was about the size of a bed sheet. Sand was sewn in the hem on its bottom so it would remained draped over the commons� windows, and it was put in place by someone who scaled his way onto the roof.

Painted on the banner, Cameron said, was a large, blue 6, outlined in black.

On Monday, in the girls� rest room, someone found a small sticker on the wall with the number five written on it.

�Naturally, it seemed like no big deal, but kids were starting to say that it is some kind of countdown and something was going to happen,� Cameron said.

School staff stepped up surveillance in the hallways and the commons area where the rest rooms are located.

�During our surveillance, some kid got into the boys� rest room and wrote a huge number 4,� Cameron said.

Along with the number was a message: All you bi***ches will die in four days.

�This is what we call a ?non-specific threat�,� Cameron said. �We don�t know what they intend to do, we don�t know who it is, but they have threatened to do harm to our student body.�

School administrators, with the help of the student resource officer, quickly viewed tapes of school hallway surveillance cameras from a time frame that the latest message appeared.

�We�ve got 20 suspects, and we�re in the process of investigating that,� Cameron said. �Meanwhile, we informed all law enforcement: the sheriff�s department, the local police department and the state Department of Criminal Investigation.�

Security measures have been tightened at the school. Vermillion police are keeping watch for suspicious activities in the parking lots and around the buildings.

�The VPD is also having their patrol guys stop and walk through the schools periodically, and we also have the sheriff�s department doing the same thing,� Cameron said.

Beginning Thursday, students will undergo a rigorous process before they are allowed in the school.

�They will only be able to enter through the commons doors; the administration will check all backpacks coming in, and law enforcement will continually do surveillance,� Cameron said. �We�re going to keep this up until it is resolved.�

Local officials had narrowed the number of suspects down from 20 to 6 as of late Wednesday.

�We�re going to be close to getting this kid by tomorrow afternoon,� Cameron said, using fingerprint and handwriting analysis. �There will be severe consequences for this individual.�

The principal has been fielding numerous call from concerned parents this week.

�The teachers are on edge, the students are freaked out � it was a very direct threat,� Cameron said. �It�s not fair to the 99 percent of the kids that come to school and want to be safe.�

He said if the threat remains unresolved by Friday, many parents likely will keep their teenagers home from school.

�I basically, can�t blame them,� Cameron said. �I�ve been telling parents that if they want to keep their kids home, to be sure and call us to excuse them, so we know where they�re at.�

Student searches will also continue as long as this case remains unsolved.

�Until we find the individual, that will just be a policy to be safe,� he said. �It�s going to be a pain, but as long as we prevent something from happening, it will be worth it.�

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