It's the kind of news that could keep any parent up at night: A commenter on Twitter and Facebook claimed he planned to show up at a suburban Seattle school and open fire on the school's commons, with the goal of gunning down as many teens as possible. Yet for one adult, the threats had particular resonance: Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline High football coach Mat Taylor was petrified, because the gunman had explicitly said that he would target "jocks" when he opened fire.
As reported by the Seattle Times, Skyline cancelled school on Thursday after word of the online threat circulated throughout the Sammamish community. The threat was initially believed to have originated from a Skyline student, and came accompanied by a photo of a semi-automatic weapon which the student allegedly planned to use in the mooted attack.
When the Times first reported on the threats, this is how the newspaper classified them.
According to screenshot pictures circulated on Twitter and Facebook, a threat apparently made by a Skyline High School student said, "I am going to open fire on the people in the commons in the morning until I am either taken down by our school's police officer, or until I run out of mags." A picture of the gun, which the writer described as his father's Erma sub-machine gun, was posted next to the threat.
The threat said the primary shooting targets would be "jocks" and people who "use their wealth and social status to act superior to others." The writer expected to die while carrying out the shooting.
Nothing happened on Thursday, perhaps due in part to the district's pre-emptive decision to cancel school. Still, the entire series of events left Taylor and other Skyline staffers seriously concerned about their students' safety.
In Taylor's case, that persistent worrying will continue through the time when his players board a bus for the team's game at Roosevelt (Wash.) High on Friday. Earlier on Friday the students returned to school in Sammamish for the first time since the threats surfaced, and Taylor, for one, said he was glad to be able to address his team as a whole, as opposed to one frantic text at a time.
"I've texted with a couple kids and called a couple kids," Taylor told the Times. "But that's been really hard not to have a team meeting and bring the kids into an auditorium and talk about what's going on. That's been the part that's been strange about the whole thing because you're used to when you have adversity in your program you can bring everybody together and talk about it. And we haven't been able to do that."