A threat against a school and/or students in Great Falls on Sunday had plenty of people concerned about student safety. Social media pages in the community were flooded with posts about the threat, and according to the Great Falls Police Department, 911 dispatchers received more than 100 calls from community members on Sunday about it.
The incident was sparked by a student who threatened another student via social media, after the second student reportedly mocked the first student online. I have seen no references anywhere that the threat involved guns or other weapons.
These photos were posted in a few places on Sunday – apparently this is what sparked the concern:
The GFPD issued a press release on Sunday evening which read, in part:
We have identified the student who made the threats. The student, and the parents, are cooperating fully with our investigation. The student has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, and per GFPS procedure. The school day throughout GFPS will proceed as normal tomorrow, although an increased police presence can be expected, the release elaborated, “out of an abundance of caution.
Assistant Superintendent of Great Falls Public Schools Tom Moore told the Great Falls Tribune on Monday that it was a “student-to-student threat,” and it “…was an emotional response to some teasing and some ridicule, and the student did not have the ways and means to carry out an attack or retribution.”
KRTV reported: “Officers searched the student’s home, but did not find a substantial or credible threat to the school district, Great Falls High School, or any group of students, according to Moore.”
Kudos as always to our dedicated GFPD officers, and anyone else who assisted them. Great Falls Public Schools posted on its Facebook page: “The student and the parents are cooperating fully with GFPS and GFPD. GFPS and GFPD will continue to investigate and monitor the individuals involved.”
Some people seem worried that the school won’t give them “permission” to keep their child home from school tomorrow. Two things: first, it would be incredibly stupid for GFPS to cancel school for such an incident – if schools across the country closed every time there was even a hint of a threat, there would be virtually no school anywhere. Unfortunately, there are far too many such incidents every day across the country (see below). And closing schools for every threat would almost certainly lead to MORE threats.
Second, a parent does NOT need “permission” to keep a kid home from school. If you honestly believe that your child would be in danger, then by all means keep him or her home tomorrow. But please don’t do it based on fear-mongering social media posts. As noted above – this incident has been “contained,” the student identified, increased police presence, and so on. If my kids were still school-age, I would have no problem with them going to class tomorrow.
And for anyone who worries or complains that Great Falls is somehow unique in having periodic threats such as this, here’s a roundup of just a few similar incidents across the country over the last several days (via a very quick Google News search that took less than a minute):
POYNETTE, Wis. (WMTV) – The Poynette Police Department arrested three juveniles after a possible school shooting threat was made through social media. (details)
The Kings County Sheriff’s Office says a 13-year-old boy has been arrested for making threats to a Lemoore elementary school. (details)
California High School in San Ramon will have a heavy police presence Thursday after three instances of graffiti in the past week threatened violence, authorities said. (details)
Woodland High School was on lockdown on the morning of May 10, 2019 after 911 received a shooting threat from inside the building. (details)
Three Union County High School students were arrested Friday after making a school shooting threat the night before, according to deputies. (details)
MYERSTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – Authorities are investigating a possible school shooting threat. (details)
The Riverton Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating a social media post which threatened a shooting at Riverton High School. (details)
Depoali Principal Joye Ancina sent another messages to parents about a threat made at the school of 1,200 students in south Reno. (details)
There will be additional officers at Mills E. Godwin High this week after “concerning” vandalism and an “apparent threat” was discovered at the school Sunday morning. (details)
A 23-year-old Elgin man accused of posting a threat against Elgin-area schools on social media was arrested Thursday. (details)
An 11-year-old boy was arrested Tuesday and charged with making a threat on social media to conduct a school shooting at a Storm Lake school. (details)
Here is the full message from the GFPD: