Gun Safety Concerns Cause Surprise Security Crackdown

Yael Ezry and Josephine Murphy

Tech students were surprised when they were met with police and metal detectors this morning as they flooded into the building upon their return from spring break. 

The tightened security measures follow two instances of gun violence close to the school community that occurred during the week of April 11th, including the 36th street station subway shooting in Sunset Park which left 10 victims shot and 22 hospitalized — including one sophomore Tech student — and the shooting of a 15-year-old near Atlantic Terminal Mall, less than half a mile away from Tech. 

The following week, the threat of violence struck the school community again via a school shooting threat discovered on Omegle, an online video chat room, that circulated on social media during spring break. 

The threat mentioned specific weapons, ammunition, and a list of students’ names who would be specifically targeted. Although it was quickly debunked to be a student located in the U.K. playing a prank on multiple NYC schools, fear of gun violence and procedure launched a full-scale security crackdown this morning.

“It took me thirty minutes to enter the school this morning,” Kiera O’Neill (‘24) said. This was the case for many students as the line to enter the building stretched around the block, with only the center-west and center-east entrances being open for entry. Once finally in the building, students had to go through the center section to participate in a TSA-like screening, ultimately making many students late for class.

English teacher Ms. Liu confirmed that somewhere between “50 to 60 percent” of students in her first-period class were late. “I teach freshmen [9th graders] during my first-period teaching, so they were all very confused and were like, ‘What’s going on?’”

O’Neill added that “It felt like more of a nuisance than a protective measure.”

As students waited in line, a dean was walking up and down, announcing that students should “put any metal you have in your pockets into your bags” and that “there are metal detectors just for today.” 

“Random screenings can happen at any time, but [the shooting threat] was the ‘occasion’ for this year. There could potentially be another random screening again before the end of the year,” Principal Newman stated. He noted that yearly security screenings are usually “routine” for most NYC high schools and that Tech was overdue.

While no guns were found, teachers reported that items such as pepper spray, knives, and other defense weapons were found in backpacks. 

Many Tech teachers worried about how entering metal detectors and seeing swarms of police officers could affect students mentally. “Coming right back from break and dealing with going through your backpacks and the metal detectors could cause a lot of anxiety for certain students,” Ms. Liu stated.

Michelle Boltyshev (‘24) corroborated this idea by stating that “the huge presence of police officers was intimidating, and upon returning the first day after break we were greeted with school officials and officers yelling at us from all sides.” She continued, “While I believe that it is responsible of the school to be taking actual safety precautions in an attempt to protect its students, I don’t agree with the way the school went about installing the metal detectors.” 

An email discussing the metal detectors was not sent out until 8:30 AM, an hour after students started entering the building. This meant that most students had already found out about them, either through social media, friends, or their own experiences. Others were simply taken by surprise.

Meanwhile, the main origin of the security check, the threat itself, caused many students to be frightened before they even entered the metal detectors. 

Anna Bodzin (‘25), was included on the so-called “hit list” of 15 Tech students included in the threat, which mentioned a variety of upper and underclassmen. “It’s just really messed up that people from the U.K., or anyone for that matter, would joke about something like that,” Bodzin commented. “It was a scary situation for me, definitely.”

O’Neill, also named in the “hit list,”  said that “the threat made [her] feel unsafe to return to school.” 

Boltyshev, another student who was included, stated feeling “disturbed and panicked.” What used to seem impossible, Boltyshev explained, seemed all the more possible in the context of the recent Brooklyn gun violence. “Going to school is hard enough without worrying about a school shooting,” she said.