ORONO, Minn. (WCCO) — School can be a sanctuary of sorts, even one day after being the very place where students lived through a terrifying experience.
“My daughter wanted to come back and be with her friends and get back invovled in what she does every day,” said parent Chris Case while watching the JV Girls Basketball Team at Orono High School. His daughter plays on the varsity squad.
Case said he talked briefly with her about Wednesday’s school shooting threat. It originated on social media, another topic often discussed with his children.
“You raise them hopefully the right way that they understand right and wrong and what to be scared about, that they would report things that they see on social media just like they would report things that they see in person,” he said.
Kyle Loven is the National Director Computer Forensic Services. He also has FBI experience investigating crimes in the digital world.
He said one of the difficulties in assessing online threats is the fact that people have the right to free speech.
“It’s determining when the speech crosses over into something more sinister with respect to a threat or intended action, that’s somewhere where law enforcement can truly get involved,” Loven said.
On Thursday night, another threat against “BHS” was circulating on social media, scaring many students and families at Blaine and Burnsville high schools. Authorities soon discovered the threat was originally posted by a student at Belen High School in New Mexico, but quickly spread online to Minnesota.
Police felt the Orono threat was credible because it stated a specific time, location, as well as the content of the message. It caused the school district to begin its lockdown procedure, including students using desk to barricade their classroom doors.
Since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that killed 17 people, copycat threats have led to arrests across the country. Other cases were unfounded, but Loven says it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“If some speech just doesn’t seem right or it doesn’t feel right to them, I always tell people to err on the side of contacting law enforcement,” he said.
Loven also described social media as a double edged sword. The bad side is that threats can spread quickly causing panic. On the good side, he said it was helpful for police and the Orono School District in getting out timely information about the lockdown and when students would be dismissed.