Law Enforcement and Jefferson Administrators Quickly Respond to Bomb Threat


Principal Dr. Ann Bonitatibus sends an email to students and their parents updating on the status of the bomb threat. Students were forced to evacuate and abandon their extracurricular activities as law enforcement personnel entered and secured the building.

Zander Kuebler , Staff Writer

With Federal Bureau of Investigation and Fairfax County Law Enforcement personnel entering the school on an early Saturday morning, a message came over the loudspeaker: “Please evacuate the building, a potential threat has been recognized.”

Many students who were at school to participate in extracurricular activities, were confused and surprised at the announcement, and immediately left the building. Junior Josh Stanton, who was at school to work on the set for the fall theatrical production, was among many congregated outside the front of the building, and awaited further instructions.

“I was uncertain what [the problem] was, maybe related to the [phone that caught on fire] yesterday,” Stanton said.

There had been an incident with a smoking phone the previous day, and many students assumed the announcement was related to that. However, as multiple police vehicles, including two containing police canines arrived, it became clear that this was no minor incident.

“Students have the opportunity to continue working at the football field, away from the building,” a Fairfax County Police Officer said. “Make sure to pay attention to the other officers out here, we’re here to keep you safe.”

When asked if the building would reopen, the officers were uncertain, but doubted that the building would reopen to students at any point that Saturday. Many student groups took this information as a send-off and abandoned their intentions for another day, still uninformed of the event behind the evacuation. Later that night, however, TJHSST parents received an email from Principal Dr. Ann Bonitatibus regarding the incident.

“Police and the FBI were investigating an apparent bomb threat discovered in an online chat room directed at a “Thomas Jefferson” school that was specific to today,” Bonitatibus said. “It’s unclear and unknown if the threat was directed at TJHSST or another Thomas Jefferson elsewhere. The threat originated from out-of-state IP addresses. As a precaution, extra security was assigned to TJHSST today. Police also conducted a sweep of the school, found nothing and declared it safe to occupy.”

Regardless of the intended location of the threat, the speed and efficiency at which students and authorities reacted to the situation was phenomenal, and ultimately assured everyone’s safety.

“We appreciate the quick response of our law enforcement partners in response to this incident,” Bonitatibus said. “We will share with you any additional information if it becomes available. Maintaining a safe campus and learning environment is a top priority.”