Three days before 10 people died in a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. a small group of students at Bowie High School in Maryland pulled a senior prank that the local police chief called "reckless."
They wore black masks covering their faces. Some wore dark clothing.
School was already in session when the band of students rushed into Bowie High School in Maryland armed with water guns and fireworks in a stunt that simulated a school shooting.
The pranksters sprayed students and staff with the squirt guns and set off fireworks in the hallway, the school's principal, Robynne W. Prince, wrote in a letter to parents after the incident.
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"I don't know what had to go through somebody's mind to pull off a prank like this in this day and age, so close to Parkland and then two days later to have the shooting today down in Texas," Steve Birckhead, whose daughter, Emily, was burned by the fireworks, told WJLA in Washington, D.C.
"It's like these kids just weren't thinking."
Emily said she was standing in the hallway with a friend when they heard people yelling, "They're coming."
She said she got squirted with vinegar. "They lit something and as they threw it sparks were flying," she told WJLA. She said she got hit with sparks on her thumb and behind her ear.
She said most of the students knew it was a joke.
But there were people who didn't know what was going on, John Nesky, Bowie's chief of police, told The Kansas City Star.
The school resource officer on the property "encountered the smoke and called it in as smoke in the area," Nesky said. "It didn't go out as anything larger than that. It was ascertained pretty quickly that it was a prank."
Nesky said the school district will decide whether any charges will be filed against the students who pulled the stunt.
School officials aren't handling it as a joke.
"School administration is taking this incident very seriously and coordinating with local police; the students involved will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law" and will be disciplined according to the school's student code of conduct, Prince wrote in her letter to parents.
The code, according to The Bowie Blade-News, says that a long-term suspension of four to 10 days, or an extended suspension of 11 to 45 days, can be given “for behavior that significantly disrupts the educational environment in the school, on the bus or at school activities and affects the safety of others."
Graduation is scheduled set for May 30, according to the Blade-News.
“I am really disappointed by the dangerous and reckless behavior displayed by this small group of students,” Prince wrote. “I know they do not represent the student body of Bowie HS, nor do they represent all the amazing accomplishments of our senior class.”
Nesky said the prank was "extremely ill-advised. It was very reckless. There could have been some very bad consequences that unfolded. Luckily nothing like that happened.”
He said he's never encountered a prank like this. "Hopefully we won't again," he said.