Threats of violence continue at Berrien County schools

NOW: Threats of violence continue at Berrien County schools

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — A startling trend has emerged in the wake of the Oxford shooting on the east side of the state, as St. Joseph became the fourth Berrien County district to report threats in their school. 

“This girl at my table said someone wrote something in the bathroom about shooting up the school,” said Victoria Peddie, a St. Joseph High School Senior. 

Peddie said it was lunch time when there was an announcement that there had been a security threat and students would be escorted out of the building.  

Parents got an email at the same time saying kids would be sent home early out of an abundance of caution. 

“I was surprised it happened at St. Joe, they’re usually really good with student discipline and keeping track of the kids who seem like they need help dealing with their problems more than others,” said Kristen Robinson, a St. Joseph High School parent.

St. Joseph Director of Public Safety Steve Neubecker said the same message was written on three men’s bathroom walls.

ABC57 has chosen to not share that image or repeat the language, but the message had threatened violence, potentially later this month.   

Neubecker said surveillance video will help them zero in on who went in and out of those restrooms during that time. 

“It’s extremely serious to make a threat at school, it’s a felony, it needs to stop,” said Director Neubecker.

St. Joe isn’t the only school now on edge, Watervliet shut down its schools Friday due to a threat, while Lincoln Township Police said there have been three threats made at Lakeshore schools.

Coloma High School is also investigating a threat from last week and a new one Tuesday. 

Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said their investigations so far have found that none of the threats are credible, but he wants to make it clear this is no joke.  

“All 21 police stations are working with us and the state police and we’re not going to tolerate this,” said Sheriff Bailey. “We cannot continue to have our schools close down and all of this anxiety amongst our students and teachers.”  

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