Threatening Graffiti Message Prompts Investigation At Butler Middle School
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Extra police officers will patrol Butler Middle School in Cottonwood Heights on Wednesday after a possible threat was found in the form of graffiti.
“The message itself could have been deemed a threat,” said Jeff Haney, spokesperson for Canyons School District. “It named the school and it named the date.”
Haney said the graffiti, which contained the full name of the middle school, was discovered Tuesday about 3 p.m. at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, which shares a parking lot with the middle school.
“The date that there could have been damage at the property, according to what the threat said, would have been tomorrow,” Haney said
Parents received recorded voice messages and emails from the school district later that afternoon informing them of the potential threat and the precautions planned for Wednesday.
“Police have been alerted to the contents of the graffiti and an investigation has been started,” the message said. “While we do not think the threat is credible, we are taking precautions to ensure the safety of students.”
The Cottonwood Heights Police Department told KSL TV that it plans to have a “noticeable” presence at the school Wednesday. The school district will also have additional administrators and counselors on hand to provide extra oversight on the last day of classes before the long holiday break.
“School will be held as usual on Wednesday. However, we also recognize and respect the right of parents to decide what is best for their families,” the message to parents went on to say. “We will work with the students whose parents decide not to send their children to school tomorrow.”
One parent said she feels left in the dark about the nature of the threat since the district won’t release more details.
“A lot of parents just want to know what it said so that we could make a better decision or even talk with our kids about, ‘Who do you know who that might have had those opinions?’ Maybe we could be of more help if we had more information,” the mother of a seventh grade student told KSL, who asked not to be identified.
By Tuesday evening, the graffiti had already been painted over, according to Haney, who said very few students actually saw the graffiti. Even so, the mother said she and other parents deserve more information.
“What was the intention behind that message?” she said. “What is that threat? What does it mean and what does it mean for my kids going forward?”
Haney said the district can’t release the exact wording used in the graffiti because it’s now part of an active police investigation. Also, the district doesn’t want to cause unwarranted fear since police didn’t deem the threat as credible.
Parents are instructed to call the school Wednesday morning with any questions or concerns. Also, the district is encouraging parents and students to use the SafeUT app to report any concerns or information.
“Your student’s safety is our No. 1 concern, and we urge all students to say something if they see something,” the recorded message to parents said.
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