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Elite NYC high school adds metal detectors following racist graffiti, shooting threats

An elite Manhattan high school was on edge Tuesday as students entered through metal detectors installed after racist graffiti threatening a mass shooting was found in a bathroom stall.

Officials claimed the detectors were added at M479 Beacon High School in Hell’s Kitchen as part of a citywide “random scanning” process but students and parents linked them to swastikas and the messages “I hate blacks” and “I will shoot up the school” that were found scrawled in the bathroom with a red marker on Thursday.

“I’m on drugs RN, I have no point to live, I will take down everyone with me (if they are black),” the graffiti read in all capital letters, according to images obtained by The Post.

Police maintained a line for the metal detectors Tuesday morning that stretched down West 44th Street to Tenth Avenue as an NYPD School Unit vehicle was parked outside with flashing lights.

“If you have a laptop or an iPad, take them out and hold them in your hands,” a school safety agent instructed.

One girl was seen being forced to remove a belt with metal studs before she could pass through.

A teacher entering the school said she was “disturbed” by the threats and security, adding “I think we all are,” and a senior noted she was “really disappointed” in the security measures, which she said were also implemented last year, for only a day.

A photo of the hateful threat was obtained by The Post.
A photo of the hateful threat was obtained by The Post.

The “highly-selective college-preparatory” school was ranked as the nation’s 548th-best high school and the 30th-best New York City high school by US News & World Report. More than three out of five students are minorities and 36% of students are economically disadvantaged, according to the report.

“I was actually very shocked about it because Beacon is like a very diverse school,” Janiya, 15, told The Post. “There are a lot of black cultures and ethnicities there, so I wouldn’t think something like that could actually happen.”

The ninth-grader said the unsettling Thursday discovery had left her and her classmates “looking over your shoulders everywhere you go.

“I was afraid when I heard and ended up going home,” Janiya said. “I was having panic attacks and stuff. There are security guards everywhere you go now.”

The threatening and hateful vandalism left Emily, a fellow 15-year-old ninth-grader, shaken.

“It was very hurtful, especially for us as Afro-Latina and black people and it made me scared at first because you never know what can happen in schools,” Emily said. “There could be a shooting.”

Another girl, who declined to give her name said she was “sad” and “angry” about the graffiti, even as she doubted the veracity of the threat.

“It’s not great, obviously. It’s kind of dangerous to see that,” the student said. “I don’t think it’s real. I think it’s someone playing,” she said while acknowledging the graffiti “could hurt a lot of people and affect them mentally and let them feel unsafe in school.”

One father accompanied his 14-year-old daughter to school Tuesday after the child had stayed home the day before.

“Of course, I’m scared for my child,” the worried dad said. “Today I came especially to see because I wrote the school and said you better put up metal detectors and do mandatory bag checks, otherwise you guys are just joking. You take the right action, you could take care of this. If you don’t, it could turn into something happening.”

The exterior of Beacon High School as seen in April of 2019 at 522 West 44th Street in Manhattan. David McGlynn
The exterior of Beacon High School as seen in April of 2019 at 522 West 44th Street in Manhattan. David McGlynn

Principal Johnny A. Ventura had sent a series of emails to families and students about the incident.

“As a Black Latino, my first set of emotions upon hearing and seeing this was anger, and then sadness that someone at our school would choose to write this,” Ventura wrote, according to The New York Times.

“We embrace diversity and inclusion at Beacon. A threat to one of us is a threat to all of us.”

The concerned father said he had found Ventura’s message to be unsatisfactory.

“The principal released a statement, saying we found a swastika in the bathroom and didn’t write about ‘kill all black people.’ I mean you got to say that. And then you say full disclosure… no, you are not. You are doing PR for the school and not protecting the kids,” said the dad, who is white.

Department of Education spokesman Nathaniel Styer had said in a statement that Chancellor David Banks “has repeatedly made it clear that all forms of bias and hate – including antisemitism – have no place in our public schools.”

“Upon discovery, the bathroom was immediately locked, and NYPD was called. Out of an abundance of caution, we have increased the security supports at the school as NYPD continues to investigate.”

Asked Monday about the metal detectors, Styer told The Post it was “part of our random scanning protocols.”

There was no word from police if any students had been arrested in connection with the graffiti.

The incident came after hundreds of students staged a sit-in at the school in 2019 over allegations of what they described as rampant racism at the prep school, which boasts a 97% graduation rate, far above the citywide average of 84%.