The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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School shooting threat empties Jefferson

Despite a quick response from admin, many Jefferson students did not come to school
Sebastian Garcia Gaytan
A Jefferson hallway sits devoid of students. Where there would usually be items overflowing out of cubbies from all the students, there is just one or two visible backpacks in this teacher’s class. “I stayed home because so many other people were staying home. I thought it was better to stay home than to risk my life,” said freshman Marie Dobbyn.

On May 2, 2024, Jefferson’s hallways and classrooms held an eerie silence. A day that was scheduled to go normally was drastically changed after the threat of a school shooting was discovered scribbled onto a boy’s bathroom stall. 

“That doesn’t happen in our area. I think in TJ especially you wouldn’t expect [the threat] because people have to apply to get in here and go through the whole application process,” junior Ella Tysse said. 

Principal Ann Bonitabitus issued an email to all parents the day before, May 1, to address the anxiety and fear. 

“Based on our school’s ongoing investigation, and in consultation with the FCPS Office of Safety and Security, we have determined the risk level to our school to be low … Out of an abundance of caution tomorrow, we will have an increased security presence on campus,” the email said.

Students stand in line at the almost empty Chick-Fil-A stand after school. A [Jefferson] food staple, the stand can be found sporting a line that blocks the entire Audlob entrance any other day. “I don’t think the fear was unwarranted. I’d say somebody will skip just because they need a skip day and they need to work on stuff but like, genuinely, that fear is real. Those people were valid in their choice to not come to school,” said Tysse. (Sebastian Garcia Gaytan)

Despite the reassurance, many students decided to stay home that Thursday. Some teachers expressed understanding for their students’ fears.

I didn’t look at it as skipping. I think everybody had to do what they had to do that day, just based on their own concerns. If I were a [Jefferson] student I probably would have stayed home,” a Jefferson teacher said. 

The threat, scrawled into a stall of the boys bathroom near the cafeteria, appeared sloppy and last-minute. The writer set the threat for Friday, seemingly forgetting there would be no school that day. They then scribbled out Friday and wrote “Thursday” above their scribble. The message included threats to the school’s security and detailed what the student planned to do, including “I want to burn this place to the ground” and “I want to grab your taser and strangle you.”

“I just saw the picture yesterday, and I was horrified and disappointed in the fact that such a thing would happen here. It was on my mind all day. But I tried to just keep the class on task so that we could stay distracted,” a Jefferson teacher said. 

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