Graffiti concerning potential school shooting found in Mason Hall bathroom, considered not a “credible threat” by DPSS

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 8:18pm

Graffiti in the Mason Hall first floor men’s bathroom suggesting a school shooting would occur Friday was found Thursday afternoon.

Graffiti in the Mason Hall first floor men’s bathroom suggesting a school shooting would occur Friday was found Thursday afternoon. Buy this photo
Courtesy of DPSS

Graffiti in the Mason Hall first floor men’s bathroom suggesting a school shooting would occur Friday was found Thursday afternoon. The University of Michigan’s Division of Public Safety and Security is currently investigating the situation, increasing police presence tomorrow but confirming this instance is not “a credible threat to the U-M community.”

The graffiti, among pencil drawings and other longer comments, read “School Shooting 4/13.” U-M Police Deputy Chief Melissa Overton has confirmed the screenshot being circulated and said the graffiti was discovered Tuesday but the University of Michigan Police Department did not deem the graffiti a legitimate threat. Though she could not comment on the process by which UMPD determined the graffiti not a credible threat Wednesday, Overton said she wanted students to know the graffiti was an isolated incident after the photo spread around campus and UMPD received multiple reports of the graffiti.

UMPD has since removed the graffiti to prevent further panic.

In response to the threat, Overton said UMPD has notified Ann Arbor Police Department, state police and federal police about the incident. She also confirmed a general increase in DPSS presence on campus tomorrow to ensure public safety despite a lack of clarity as to where an attack might take place.

“The only thing is said was ‘School Shooting 4/13’,” Overton said. “No specific details to determine location or anything like that … It’s really hard because it doesn’t specify where or what. The details just aren’t there.”

Overton also confirmed the case has since been assigned to a detective for further investigation and DPSS is asking University students, faculty and staff to report any suspicious activity in hopes of preventing any possible acts of violence on campus tomorrow and in the future.

In an earlier public statement, DPSS commended the students and faculty who reported the graffiti to authorities and encouraged this response to troubling events and signs on campus.

“We value our partnership with our community and appreciate those who stepped forward to report this information,” the statement read. “We all play a role in ensuring community safety. If you see something that shouldn’t be there or someone’s behavior doesn’t seem quite right — say something.”

University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said DPSS is handling all comments about the graffiti but clarified Public Affairs is assisting in spreading the DPSS statement and any further information to limit panic and ensure a safe environment on campus.

According to Broekhuizen and DPSS, there are currently no plans to cancel classes tomorrow. However, in response to concerns from students, instructors including Lecturer Eric Fretz are arranging for classes to meet off campus. After discussing with his Graduate Student Instructors who received many emails from students concerned about their discussion sections meeting in their usual Mason Hall classrooms for their final presentations, Fretz said he wanted to take his students’ concerns into account.

“It’s a real challenge to frame something like this accurately because you always want to err on the side of caution,” Fretz said. “I am responsible for my students and their safety and their mental well-being so I just thought it was important to let them know that: A. We would not have class in Mason Hall … and that (B.) we would make alternate arrangements so that no one would be penalized.”

Fretz suggested to his GSIs to hold discussion off campus at a restaurant or, if the students are still concerned, they can schedule a time to meet with him and the GSIs and present their final projects another day.

“In the end, I really do want the students who have worked all this term to have a chance to present their (project) so I try to find a way to balance the safety and concerns of the students with the needs to complete the class and have everything done.”

This is a developing story. Check back at michigandaily.com for more details.