Parents vowed to keep their children away from school today after chilling messages were posted online threatening to leave a trail of ‘bullets, bodies, and blood’.
Police are set to stand guard outside Bispham’s Montgomery High School after failing to track down the anonymous threat-maker, who said he planned to ‘kill as many people as possible’ in revenge for alleged bullying.
Although officers have moved to reassure parents they are confident the threat is a hoax, a number of chairs are expected to remain empty as classes resume.
Yesterday principal Tony Nicholson confirmed the school would open today as normal and offer counselling.
It comes as police said they believe a vandal attack on the school is unconnected to the threats.
He said: “We look forward to welcoming our students to school at the usual time for a purposeful start to the New Year.
My two are not going anywhere near until an arrest has been made. I’m not putting my kids’ lives at risk.Lee Smallwood
“We have continued to plan for an orderly start to the term on Monday with ‘safe business as usual’ being our aim. The Montgomery staff will be supportive, diligent and will, as usual, be highly visible from the outset of the working day.
“The local authority have kindly provided counselling services for any students who have found the last few days upsetting and stressful. Three fully trained personnel from the social services team will complement our in-house pastoral team and will be available in school all day. We are all acutely aware of the pressures these events have placed on our community and your families. We remain determined to offer the very best pastoral care and support for your children during this difficult time.”
However, worried mum Kelly Porter, who lost her three-month-old son Levi in 2008 and daughter Scarlet at birth in 2012, said: “I’m not sending my son in, no way. I’ve had to bury two of my babies and I’m not doing it again.
“No matter what they say, they can’t guarantee nothing will happen.”
And Lee Smallwood said: “My two are not going anywhere near until an arrest has been made. I’m not putting my kids’ lives at risk.” Paul Mcmahon added: “I hope the police and school are aware hardly anyone is sending their children in today and for the foreseeable future, until whoever has posted the threats has been arrested.”
The series of messages were posted on Facebook late last week by a user The Gazette has chosen not to name but who is thought to have been using a pseudonym.
The poster, who has since deleted their account, praised Columbine Massacre gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who murdered 12 students and one teacher at their US school in 1999, and said: “These guys are great. They killed a bunch of people in their high school and then killed themselves. Huge inspiration for the #MontyMassacre on Monday.”
In subsequent postings they added: “On Monday, the bullies will be sorry when I go into school with a gun.
“I’ll kill as many people as possible.
In another, the poster praised Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman Adam Lanza, who killed 20 children and six members of staff during his 2012 rampage, also in the US, adding: “As soon as I tell people I’ve got a gun, I start getting bombarded with messages.”
When challenged by one student, he asked: “You think it’s a joke? You’ll see bullets, bodies, and blood.”
Mr Nicholson moved to reassure parents through daily updates posted on the school’s website.
He said staff were working closely with officers, who had ‘confidently reinforced the view these online postings do not represent a credible threat’.
He said: “They, and we, wish to reassure our parents and the wider school community that Montgomery High School can open as normal on Monday morning.
“We fully appreciate your anxiety and concerns. We wish to assure you that the safety of everyone is our number one priority.”
Windows were smashed at the school over the weekend, although the incident is not being linked with the online threats.
“The school is not concerned about the windows,” a senior teacher said.
“The vandalism is not being treated as anything other than wilful damage. It is not being treated as linked to the threats.”
And despite online rumours to the contrary, the damage was not caused by gunshots, he added.
Despite the school’s reassurances, scores of parents reaffirmed their intentions to keep youngsters at home.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We are aware of the posts on social media and are investigating the source and content of these messages.
“There is nothing to suggest these messages pose a credible threat.
“There will be a visible police presence when term begins on Monday.
“Our inquiries to identify who is responsible for posting these messages remain ongoing.