Security Increases as Highland Park HS Reopens - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Security Increases as Highland Park HS Reopens

High school to reopen for regular classes Thursday



    Students head back to Highland Park High School Thursday morning under tighter security and the watchful eyes of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Published Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013)

    Students head back to Highland Park High School Thursday morning under tighter security and the watchful eyes of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Highland Park High School in University Park was dismissed early on Wednesday after .22 caliber bullets were found in a boys bathroom. No weapon or note was found with the bullets.

    The school district at first said that a box of .22 caliber shells was found but later described them in a message to parents and staff Wednesday night as a "handful of .22-caliber bullets."

    On Wednesday, the school closed all but front doors on Emerson Avenue and the student entrance on Westchester Avenue in wake of the threatening note found on Tuesday. Thursday, students will again only have these entrances to the building.

    Bullets Found Inside Highland Park HS Restroom

    [DFW] Bullets Found Inside Highland Park HS Restroom
    Students will return to school on Thursday after early dismissal on Wednesday when someone discovered bullets inside a restroom at Highland Park High School.
    (Published Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013)

    Because the bullets and previous incidents including threatening notes were found in bathrooms, restroom access will be restricted.

    "Students will only be allowed to use restrooms during passing periods. Those who need access to restrooms during class will be escorted by a staff member," Principal Walter Kelly said.

    Students said they understand the reasons for the changes.

    "It seems kind of funny having a teacher escort you to the bathroom, but I get why they're doing it, and I think they're doing the right thing," Katie Crow said.

    Kelly said in the statement that the school and law enforcement have determined that there was no legitimate threat to public safety on Wednesday.

    The FBI and University Park police are investigating the incident.

    FBI Joins Investigation Into Highland Park Threats

    [DFW] FBI Joins Investigation Into Highland Park Threats
    The FBI has joined the investigation into the shut down Highland Park High School after bullet casings were found in a bathroom at the school Wednesday.
    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013)

    Investigators gathered surveillance video from the bathroom where the bullets were found and interviewed several people.

    No one has been charged in the incident.

    Decision to Dismiss

    Initially, school officials said students were not going to be dismissed and would be held at the school. One student was taken into custody by University Park police and returned to school after trying to leave campus. Police said the student is not connected to the bullets or the previous notes and was told to leave campus by his or her parents.

    At 12:30 p.m., a decision was made to dismiss students at different times by grade level.

    School officials released the following statement to parents Wednesday:

    "We want to thank parents, students and faculty for their cooperation and understanding. Safety is always our top priority. HPISD will continue to update parents, students and staff through its emergency text-message system, email, and posts on the district website."

    Parents waited outside the school Wednesday morning for their children. Many received text messages from their children.

    "He was communicating for a while, back and forth," Michelle Bardwell said. "He didn't know what was going on. He said just that they were on lockdown, sitting on the floor."

    String of Security Scares

    The incident is the fifth security incident on campus in the last month. The campus was dismissed early Tuesday after a threatening note was found on campus. In January, classes were dismissed early twice after three threatening notes were found in a boys bathroom on consecutive days.

    The box of bullets was not found in the same bathroom where the previous notes were found. If the incidents are connected, the person responsible could face felony charges.

    While students' safety is the utmost priority, it is imperative to continue with classes, Kelly said in his statement. The high school will be on its regular schedule Thursday and will have an increased police presence.

    "They're just trying to make everyone feel safer. And I sort of felt safe today, but just the fact that there were police and SWAT and lockdowns -- I was still really scared, so I think tomorrow it will make everyone feel better," student Alex Cornett said Wednesday.

    NBC 5's Frank Heinz, Jeff Smith, Ray Villeda and Amanda Guerra contributed to this report.