The teenage girl who taped a kitchen knife to the door of Lower Merion High School on Wednesday morning and left several rambling notes in the school probably did not pose a threat to others but may still face criminal charges, the township police superintendent said yesterday.
The student was identified Wednesday afternoon by police and school officials and was questioned at her home early that evening, Lower Merion superintendent Joseph Daly said yesterday. She is now in the custody of her parents and is no longer attending the school, Daly added.
The incident is still under investigation, Daly said, and no charges have been filed at this point. "I don't think this young person had any intent to harm anybody but she is someone who needs assistance," he said.
Still, in general, he added: "We want people to understand that these are serious acts and they will have serious repercussions. . . . We need to send a clear message: If you're going to do this kind of thing and we find out who you are, you're going to be prosecuted."
Daly said the student is a juvenile and he would not release her name or age. Nor would he disclose the full contents of the letter the girl taped to the door along with the knife and left copies in several places throughout the school.
He did say that it "was full of philosophical mumbo jumbo," quoting the philosopher Martin Heidegger. It contained no direct threats or racial or ethnic slurs, he said, but "had information that would lead you to believe that something was about to happen today" at the school. It included the phrase "Tomorrow it will fall apart," the police superintendent said.
The remark could have many meanings, such as a cry for help or a threat of suicide or violence, Daly said, but "you have to take it seriously."
The police superintendent did not go into detail about how the student was identified but said that school authorities and police worked together to figure out who might be involved and were helped by tracking when and where the copies of the letter showed up inside the school.
The high school remained open Wednesday with extra police, Daly said, because "I didn't think this young person had any intent to harm" anybody. "If I had believed that there were children or faculty at risk, it would have been closed in a heartbeat."
Now, with the student identified and out of the school, he said, "the community can breathe a collective sigh of relief."
Contact staff writer Dan Hardy at 610-701-7638 or firstname.lastname@example.org.