LIHUE — Threats of violence forced two schools on the island to close early on Monday, as law enforcement officials investigated reports of text messages about plans to “bomb every single building” on the Waimea High School Campus and “shoot every student and teacher” at Kauai High School.
Screen shots and photos of two text messages threatening Waimea and Kauai High circulated on multiple social media platforms Monday afternoon. A screenshot of a text threatening Waimea High was sent to The Garden Island Monday afternoon by a student who did not know the origin of the message but said the photo was posted “all over” Instagram.
“I am sick and tired of these buildings and the people who operate in them,” the text message began. “Today before 1 pm, I am going to bomb every single building on campus simultaneously. I have NOTHING to lose.”
Another screenshot being shared on Facebook, showed a similar text, this one containing threats to Kauai High School sent by someone who said they were “over being the quiet kid and everyone picking on me i can’t stand it no more… today im goin to shoot every student and teacher in this school.
The person who received the text asked, “who is this?” and got the following reply: “don’t worry just know i’m shooting up the school at 1 when the bell rings so good luck.”
Calls by TGI to the two phone numbers that sent the threats were not answered Monday afternoon. According to Whitepages.com, a provider of online directory services, the number attached to the Waimea High threat is registered to a user in Kaunakakai on Molokai, and the number associated with the Kauai High is registered to a Lihue resident.
The two incidents came on the heels of two other threats in the past 10 days that forced school closures on Kauai. Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School administrators shut down the campus on Sept. 20, after a student allegedly made threatening social media posts, and Kauai High was forced to close its doors just five days later while police investigated a threat made via text message.
Police have not commented on whether the string of school threats are directly connected, but Lindsay Chambers, communications director for the Hawaii State Department of Education, said Monday that a single incident can sometimes trigger a chain reaction of “copycat threats.” Chambers said both Kauai and Waimea High are expected to reopen this morning as usual.
A junior at Waimea High, Aden Ringor, 16, said he heard about the threat on Monday morning while he was at school and “got all curious.” Later, a screenshot of the text was sent to him and his friends in a group message.
“When we seen it, we were like, oh OK, we’re getting scared now,” he said.
Still, Ringor said he and his friends didn’t know what to do and went back to class until fourth period, when an announcement over the school’s PA system interrupted class, telling all teachers to check their messages.
“We continued our day as normal,” Ringor said, describing the school day following the announcement. “Police were on the scene.”
School administrators closed the school at 12:30 p.m., according to an update posted to Waimea High’s website around noon, which said, “Parents may pick up their students, or students may drive themselves home. We are also working on getting busses here ASAP.”
The update came about 10 minutes after the school’s initial notification, saying, “Waimea High School administration is aware of the bomb threat that was made and we are working closely with the Kauai Police Department, Kauai District DOE and State DOE to ensure the safety of all our staff and students. We will update you as soon as we have more information.”
Ringor said he and the rest of the students were sent home for the day and told only that there had been “an unforeseen event.”
“We were pretty clueless,” Ringor said but added that the lack of information did not especially concern him.
“I was like, OK, I’m scared already,” he said. “I’m out.”
Ringer said he left school after being released, went home and “just kind of collected myself.”
Students at Kauai High were released an hour early, at 2:20 p.m., after KPD officers assessed the situation and “deemed the school to be All Clear,” according to a statement on the KHS website. Kauai High went on lockdown just before 1 p.m. in response to what school administrators described in a previous notification as “an anonymous unsubstantiated threat” made via social media about 12:30 pm.
“A lockdown is being initiated to ensure all students are safely inside while we investigate,” the school’s notification said. “KPD has been called and is onsite. All students are safe. Please do not come to campus.”
A KPD spokesperson said police responded to two “anonymous false threats” that did not appear to be related, and “neither threat was deemed credible.” The investigations into both threats are on-going, the spokesperson said, and asked that anyone with information concerning the person responsible call KPD Dispatch at 241-1711 or Crime Stoppers Kauai at 246-8300.
A letter from Waimea High School Principal Mahina Anguay Monday evening said the FBI was notified about the threat, and the incident is under investigation.
“Due to the response from our students, parents and school community, we decided to close school early,” Anguay’s letter said. “However, this is not typical protocol for an alleged threat response and we were not advised by law enforcement to end the school day early. This does not set a precedence for how future incidents will be handled.”
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.