Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School under increased security Friday after false threat

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School faced a serious threat on Thursday when an unknown caller reported bombs and firearms within the school. 

The incident, which took place during lunch at approximately 11:18 a.m., led to immediate action from school authorities and law enforcement. 

Principal Shelton Mooney addressed the community in a letter detailing the event and the subsequent response.

The threat call was received by the main office, where the caller claimed to be hiding in a bathroom, armed, and to have placed bombs in student backpacks and around the building. The school's administration swiftly called 911, prompting the Montgomery County Police Department to respond and take command of the situation.

A shelter-in-place order was issued, quickly followed by a full lockdown as MCPD arrived on the scene. 


'Swatting' call prompts lockdown at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School went on lockdown Thursday morning after school officials reported that a bomb threat was made towards the school.

Police conducted an evaluation and sweep of the building, which concluded at 1:17 p.m. Given the specificity and persistence of the caller, the police decided a comprehensive search was necessary to ensure safety.

Principal Mooney expressed gratitude for the cooperation and composure shown by students, staff, and visitors during the stressful event. He acknowledged the traumatic nature of the incident and announced the availability of additional mental health staff and increased security presence at the school. 

"While this was an incredibly stressful and traumatic event, everyone in our building did everything that we asked them to when the shelter and lockdown announcements were made and fully cooperated with staff as we went through it," Mooney stated. 

Teachers have been asked to cancel class-based assessments for the following day, though scheduled AP and IB exams will proceed as planned.

Montgomery County Police have indicated that the initial investigation suggests the call did not originate from within the school. They are actively working to identify the individual behind the threat. 

At a news conference last month, MCPD Chief Marcus Jones highlighted the ongoing issue of threats to schools, noting that the current school year has seen 140 such threats in Montgomery County alone.

"It's not our goal to make an arrest in every case of a threat," Chief Jones stated. "In fact, this school year alone, we have received 140 threats to our schools in Montgomery County."

Chief Jones explained that when the perpetrators of threats are identified, police visit their homes, speak to their parents, and ensure there is no capability for the student to carry out harm. 

In these instances, no arrests are made, and the cases are referred back to the school system for potential disciplinary action.

Despite reaching out to Montgomery County Schools and every Board of Education member for comment, FOX 5 did not receive a response.

As the school community processes this unsettling event, Principal Mooney reassured families of the ongoing efforts to enhance safety and emergency response procedures.

Read the full letter sent to the B-CC community below: 

Dear Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Community,

I am writing to share information regarding the serious incident that occurred at school today. At approximately 11:18 AM, during lunch, we received a bomb threat call to the main office from an unknown caller. The caller stated later in the call that they were hiding in a bathroom, had a gun, had placed bombs in student backpacks, and had placed explosive devices all around the building. The B-CC administration called 911 immediately and Montgomery County Police Department members arrived. A shelter-in-place was announced and immediately after a lockdown was initiated.  We coordinated   community messaging with our police partners to ensure that our school community was aware of the lockdown.Once MCPD arrived, they assumed command of the situation. During the lockdown MCPD  conducted a thorough evaluation of the building and completed a full sweep of the building, ending their investigation at 1:17 PM. It is important to note that this situation was thoroughly investigated by MCPD based on a variety of factors including the fact that the caller remained on the line answering questions, the specificity of the threat, and the police’s inability to determine the veracity of the threat, the police determined a need to complete a full sweep of the building. 
I would like to express my sincerest appreciation for how our students, staff, and visitors who were in the building during today's event handled themselves. While this was an incredibly stressful and traumatic event, everyone in our building did everything that we asked them to when the shelter and lockdown announcements were made and fully cooperated with staff as we went through it. We will continue to work with our school community to refine our processes and procedures in response to emergencies. 
Finally, I know that I am still processing the two distinct serious incidents that have occurred this week and recognize that everyone will deal with it differently and on different timelines. Some will deal with it immediately and others will need time and space, while others may struggle to identify their feelings around these incidents. We will have additional mental health staff onsite tomorrow for any student or staff member who needs to speak to someone or have a space to quietly process. The support will be based in the Counseling office for students and the Main Office Conference Room for staff and anyone who needs support should report to that location. We will also have an increased security presence at school tomorrow.
In addition, I have asked all teachers to cancel class-based assessments tomorrow. Scheduled AP and IB exams will continue as previously scheduled. 
Thank you for your continued support as we process this event. Please reach out to the school if you have any questions.


Shelton Mooney, Ed.D.


FOX 5's Homa Bash contributed to this report.