Southwest Schools close after Snapchat threatMarch 1, 2019
By BILL POWELL and LEANN BURKE
HUNTINGBURG — Police and school corporation officials are detailing the social media threat that resulted in the closure today of Southwest Dubois County School Corporation schools.
A media release by the school district says community members informed school administration at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday that a threatening photograph was being sent through the social media platform Snapchat.
The school corporation notified the Huntingburg Police Department at 8:19 p.m. of the photo that was going viral. Police say it depicted a masked individual wearing all black and holding a rifle. The photo was captioned, “Time to have some fun at Southridge.”
The district’s school resource officer and a Huntingburg police detective sergeant immediately began a joint investigation with school officials, police report.
Early in that investigation police report discovering the photo was taken from a past news article featured in The Oregonian newspaper about a school-threat incident in Beaverton, Oregon, and did not depict a Southridge High School student in Indiana. However, police add, the source of the viral Snapchat posting was initially unknown; therefore, officers and school staff worked diligently throughout the night to ensure there was no threat to the school corporation.
At approximately 1 a.m. today — roughly an hour after school had been canceled — the source of the viral photo was located and investigated by officers. Following that interview, officers determined that no threat to the school corporation existed. Furthermore, police said, the source of the viral photo was a Southridge student who found it after conducting a Google search in an attempt to obtain information in reference to an earlier press release from the school.
The student located the article and attached photo, believing it was related to the earlier incident and sent it to a few friends on Snapchat. From there, police say, the photo went viral around the Southridge student body and other area school corporations.
According to the release from the district, police have brought no charges against the student who circulated the photograph, but the school will take appropriate disciplinary action.
Earlier in the day Thursday, the school district and Huntingburg Police Department investigated a threat a student made to Southridge High School.
The student was reported by classmates and taken into custody by Huntingburg police and suspended from school, according to an email Superintendent Tim LaGrange sent to parents Thursday.
In that email, LaGrange praised the students who reported the threat.
“Our students acted appropriately by reporting this information,” LaGrange wrote. “And as always we we take all threats seriously.”
No students or staff were injured in either threat.
This is the second time in about a year that a student has threatened Southridge High School. Last year, on Feb. 27, Huntingburg Police took a student into custody for threatening the school. That student was eventually transported to the Southwest Juvenile Facility in Knox County for Level 6 felony intimidation, according to Herald archives.
The Huntingburg Police Department would like to remind the community that when information on such threats is received, it is treated with the utmost seriousness and thoroughly investigated.
The school corporation’s media release says the district “will be taking appropriate disciplinary measures connected to this investigation.”
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