Threatening text messages put Bay City schools on high alert
Jan. 6, 2011 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 5, 2011 at 7:06 p.m.
Bay City school students and employees received threatening text messages Tuesday and Wednesday.
The messages prompted the district to lock down the high school and junior high campuses on Thursday. Police presence was also increased on the two campuses.
"We are taking the text message threat seriously," said Keith Brown, school district superintendent.
The name of the person behind the texts has not been identified, and it has not been determined if it is the same person who sent the letter.
The person who sent the text message will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, he said.
The text is possibly a continuation of a threatening letter sent to Brown at the school district over the Christmas break. The letter writer was upset because his daughter was injured by students after she told them to be quiet in class.
The letter writer threatened to kill students and district employees if rules he wrote were not followed.
The text message reads the person receiving the text needs to forward the letter. If the first rule is broken, then two girls from each the high school and junior high will die.
The text first circulated Tuesday night and was sent to Brown and his two daughters, one of whom was threatened in the letter.
"With technology, this text will be easily traced, just like e-mail," Brown said at a news conference at the district's administration building on Thursday.
Laura Sykes, a freshman at Bay City High school received the text Wednesday night and was concerned.
"A few of my friends received the text, and they forwarded it to me; when I read it, I felt scared," she said.
Laura did not attend class Thursday.
"I don't fell safe right now. My mom and I will discuss it, but I have mixed feelings about attending tomorrow," she said.
Undercover personal have been in place across the school district since the students came back to school from the holiday, Brown said.
Brown said the district is not considering closing the schools because the threat was not made to a specific location on campus, but to individuals.
About 55 percent of the district's 3,781 students attended classes on Thursday.
"We are not concerned about the financial impact if students miss class," he said. "We are focused on the safety and security of our parents and our students."
Brown said they cannot consider financial impact because schools are not for profit.
"At the end of the day we will apply for a waiver to the Texas Education Agency," he added.
The Texas Rangers and Texas Department of Public Safety are leading the investigation.
"We have all the law enforcement agencies investigating and all the power of the state of Texas behind us," he said.