Unarmed intruder causes panic at North Bethesda Middle School


Photo by Seyun Park

North Bethesda Middle school was breached during the school day on Oct. 6. Many rumors have circulated, including that the intruder was armed, but have been proven false.

In recent years, school violence has been spiking. This is why schools now have more security guards and safety measures, the most prominent example being the new ID policy here at WJ. Now, this looming threat came true a little closer to home.
At approximately 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, an unarmed middle or high school-aged girl entered the North Bethesda Middle School and made threats to physically harm students.
In an email, North Bethesda Middle School principal Dr. Annemarie Smith confirmed that a student from another school entered North Bethesda with another student.
“When confronted, the student became disruptive and was non-compliant. As a result, we called Montgomery County Police for assistance. Rumors have circulated that there was a weapon in the school. There were no weapons in the school and the situation has been resolved. We do understand that the intruder made verbal threats but no student was harmed at NBMS,” Smith said.
Abigail Keehn, a 7th grader at North Bethesda, witnessed the disturbance.
“I was just talking with my friend and starting to work on our packet when all of a sudden a girl who seemed like she was crying ran into the room, shortly followed by a security guard. I was sorta shocked at first, I thought I was some kind of student making a fuss about skipping class or something, but then she started fighting off the security guard and he told our class to get out of the room and go to the hall,” Keehn said.
As the students were leaving, the intruder escaped from the hold of the security guard that was pinning her. She attempted to egress down the hallway, but the 7th grade administrator Daniel Werbeck pushed her against a locker, then escorted her back into the evacuated classroom. The students were sent to the library to wait out the situation.
“When we got to the library, a class was in there so Ms. Woods let us sit by the graphic novels. Later Dr. Smith got on the intercom and told the other graders to not go to lunch for a bit because there was a security threat. She came on a few minutes later and said the other graders could go to lunch, but to avoid the B hall, where our classroom was,” Keehn said.
After being kept there for approximately half an hour, Keehn and her classmates were returned back to their 5th period to wait out the remaining time.
“When we got to class the black screen they had on the glass pane on the door was put up, a desk was moved facing two chairs and the teacher’s swivel chair was also pulled out. The stool had a box of tissues on it and some used ones on the floor. We sat down and resumed our work while just processing what had just happened,” Keehn said.
The commotion that happened Thursday brings the question of what schools can do to keep students safe. It’s arguable that the new IDs can prevent students from entering the school, but if the intruder has a person on the inside, like what happened at North Bethesda, the IDs won’t affect the situation.
Sophomore Yaya Metwalli believes that the school is still easily accessible to outsiders.
“The addition of IDs didn’t change a single thing about security this year. It’s true that the amount of people from external schools have decreased but there’s still a few people that are able to enter. I overall believe that IDs are unnecessary,” Metwalli said.