Note causes HS lockdown/Threatening letter puts Columbus on alert

The Columbus High School Campus was put on lockdown last week after a threatening letter was found on a desk by a janitor.
Community News Group/Arthur Cusano

The Columbus High School Campus was put on alert last week when a threatening letter was found in one of the campus high schools.

The letter was found by a janitor cleaning desks at around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 9.

The Hallmark greeting card on a student’s desk stated “ima shoot up the school,” according the NYPD.

The staff member who reported the letter was unable to identify which student, if any, wrote it.

The NYPD immediately responded and conducted a thorough search and cleared the building, according to a NYC Department of Education spokesperson.

The school, located on Astor Avenue, was put on lockdown while police swept the building for threats.

However, a search of the building and lockers yielded nothing.

“Students and staff are safe, and an evacuation was not necessary,” the spokesperson said.

The Columbus High School Campus consists of six separate schools: Astor Collegiate Academy, High School for Language and Innovation, Global Enterprise Academy, Collegiate Institute for Math and Science, Bronxdale High School and Pelham Parkway Academy.

Inquiries as to which of the schools the incident took place in were not returned by the DOE.

President of 49th Precinct Community Council Joe Thompson said he had not been made aware of the incident, or any other recent public safety incidents at the school.

Since the early 2000s, the school has seen a large influx of Albanian students into the mostly black and Hispanic school, he said.

Racial tensions in the school have calmed down considerably over the past few years, Thompson said.

“It’s actually been a lot better in recent years,” he said.

Columbus High School itself closed in 2014 after 75 years due to academic troubles, including plummeting graduation rates.

That school has boasted several famous alumi, including actress Anne Bancroft, former Giants and Mets catcher Johnny Monell, state senators Guy Valella and his successor, Jeff Klein.

David Berkowitz also attended the school before his 1977 killing spree as the Son of Sam killer.

Councilman James Vacca said he had nothing but fond memories of the school, which had over 4,000 students until the late ‘90s when it was downsized.

“We had 4,700 students – it was an overcrowded school on double sessions,” Vacca said. At that point Columbus was a destination point. If you didn’t make Bronx High School of Science, Columbus was second best in the borough.”

Vacca said the schools on the Columbus campus had gotten several upgrades during recent years through his office, including a new cafeteria and library tech center.

The smaller schools are aimed at providing students more individual attention, he said.

But on the other hand he confirmed the campus has had metal detectors for many years.

“Each school has challenges, and I think they are trying to address them, but I think work still has to be done,” Vacca said.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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