A 15-year-old boy brought a knife on to the campus of Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School Wednesday morning and threatened to harm a female student before authorities apprehended him, police say.
Colonial School District administrators have since told Patch that the juvenile was not a student at the time of the incident, although he was previously enrolled in district schools. The suspect had no disciplinary issues with CSD during his time as a student, administrators said.
According to a report filed at the Whitemarsh Police Department, the suspect approached a classmate of the victim when she arrived by bus at approximately 7 a.m. and told her that "he was going to hurt [the victim]," before showing her a knife. He also told the girl, possibly a friend of the victim, that he had "nothing to lose."
The girl then searched for the victim and sent a text telling her to "go to her classroom or hide." A third female student also told police that she spoke with the suspect and asked if he had a knife, at which point he pulled at his pants pocket to indicate its location.
The two female students then approached a teacher and told him they feared for the victim's safety, prompting the teacher to call school security.
School officials were able to locate the victim and take her into safety, the report said. The victim later told police that she saw the suspect while waiting for her classroom to open, but that he merely stared at her. The girl also told police that she was fearful, as the suspect had communicated to others that he wanted to "stab, rape, and kill her," the report said.
PWHS officials said they made the decision to go into a lockdown for the safety of the students, but that the suspect was apprehended just prior to its implementation. According to the report, a school security officer found the suspect in a parking lot near the swimming pool at approximately 7:40 a.m. and called out to him, causing the suspect to begin to run.
According to reports, the security officer chased the suspect down a hill toward Germantown Pike, where he abruptly stopped as two responding Whitemarsh Police Officers arrived. The suspect was then detained, and officers found a knife in his front left pants pocked, the report said.
Police also said they spoke with a third witness, who said that the suspect had previously told him that he wanted to kill the girl, her mother, and her dog.
Due to his status as a juvenile, police withheld the identity of the suspect and any charges he may be facing.
Patch received e-mails from parents with concerns that they had not been notified about the incident and that their children may have been in danger.
Dave Sherman, Community Relations Coordinator for the district, told Patch that all proper procedures were followed.
"Students immediately contacted the teacher, who in turn contacted building security, who immediately located and secured the student who was threatened and called police," Sherman said. "Our students reacted in a manner they were taught, and staff acted appropriately."
"It is my understanding that parents were not notified," continued Sherman. "The building was actually never in lockdown, as the suspect was apprehended outside of the building before the lockdown was put into effect. No classes were disrupted."
Sherman also praised district efforts to increase security. He told Patch that the district currently employs six security officers, five of whom have prior law enforcement experience. A recent security audit of the district also praised CSD for "exceptional resources in prevention-oriented student support services [and] proactive security measures and crisis preparedness planning," Sherman said.
WSD Police Chief Mike Beaty told superintendent Mary Ellen Gorodetzer that district security personnel “peformed admirably,” Sherman said.