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Security increased after threat at Downey

Security was high and attendance was down Monday morning at Downey High School in Modesto because of a note found scrawled in a bathroom last week that threatened to “shoot up the school.”

The threat was discovered Tuesday by a student, who reported it to school officials. It said: “I’m going to shoot up the school. Better watch out on Oct 1st.”

Late Friday afternoon, school and police officials identified the senior boy who allegedly wrote the graffiti in a bathroom near the band room. He was overheard talking about the threat, and his writing samples were compared, school officials said, and were believed to be consistent.

Police went to the boy’s home Friday and determined he had no access to guns there. The student was suspended for five days beginning today. He has denied responsibility.

Principal Phil Alfano said this morning that neither police nor school officials believed the note posed a “credible threat” to students.

“If we thought he was serious, he’d have been out in handcuffs,” Alfano said. “I think he accomplished what he wanted. He got lots of attention.”

This morning, Modesto police had three officers on campus — two more than normal. School started on time at 8 a.m.

Alfano said attendance appeared to be down slightly. He attributed the reduction to rumors of the situation circulated over the weekend on my students’ Myspace.com personal pages.

“It mushroomed out of control,” Alfano said. “It’s like the old game of Telephone. The further away you get from the original source, the more outrageous it becomes.”

For more on this story, see www.modbee.com or Tuesday's Bee.

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