Series of bathroom threats at Bernard Middle appear to be copycat incidents after Washington Middle School evacuation

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By Gloria Lloyd, News Editor

Threats were scrawled in two different bathrooms at Bernard Middle School the last two days, in what could be copycat incidents imitating bathroom threats that prompted students’ evacuation from Washington Middle School Tuesday.

Students at Washington Middle were taken outside between WMS and Trautwein Elementary for several hours Tuesday morning as police swept the school for bombs following a a threat made on a bathroom wall at the middle school. Both Bernard and Washington Middle are middle schools in the Mehlville School District.

That evacuation, the school district believes, led to a series of copycat threats in bathrooms at Bernard Middle School this week. Like the original threat at Washington Middle, none of the copycat threats are believed to be credible, but the district is taking them seriously nonetheless, a spokeswoman told The Call.

A student found threatening graffiti Wednesday on the wall of a stall in a girls bathroom at Bernard Middle School, Principal Lauren Cumming said in a letter sent to parents Thursday night. The message, which was “not very legible” according to Cumming’s email, was found in the bathroom in the eighth-grade hall.

But since the graffiti appeared to reference bombing the school, the school contacted the St. Louis County Police Department. They began investigating along with administrators.

Police did not find that threat credible, Cumming told parents.

Threatening graffiti was found again by a student Thursday at Bernard, this time in a boys bathroom in the seventh-grade hall. This message threatened a shooting at Bernard.

Once again, school officials “immediately” contacted St. Louis County Police. This time, they asked teachers to keep students inside their classrooms while the police and administrators swept the building.

Like the first threat, this graffiti was also not found to be a credible threat by police, Cumming said. So far, police and administrators have not been able to identify who wrote either message.

The Mehlville School District and the St. Louis County Police Department have upped police presence at the school in response to the threats, which continued Friday. Cumming thanked police for a “swift” response to the threats. Bernard does have a school-resource officer, a St. Louis County police officer who chooses to work inside schools during the school year.

Bernard will be increasing monitoring of bathrooms throughout the day to look for additional graffiti.

In the email to parents, Cumming thanked the students who reported the messages and asked that any parent or student who knows anything about the threats contact her, and the reporting student’s identity will remain anonymous.

Please also talk to your children about the seriousness of making threats. Students who make threats like these could face criminal charges and will face disciplinary action in accordance with our district policies,” Cumming noted in the email.

Please know that (Assistant Principal) Mrs. (Erin) Kennedy and I take the safety of your children seriously. We will continue to work to ensure Bernard Middle School is a safe environment for all of our students and staff. We do not take threats like these lightly and are continuing to investigate. …  We will continue to strengthen relationships with students in a manner that helps them feel safe and provides a sense of belonging at Bernard Middle School. Counselors and staff will be actively connecting with students throughout the school day to speak about the events of the past two days, and my door is always open to any student,” Cumming wrote to parents.