OUR VIEW: Students did the right thing during shooting scare
"I want to confirm that our investigation has found no threat to anyone at Woodbury High School."
Thank goodness for those words, in a letter Feb. 6 from Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague to Woodbury High School students, families and staff after a disturbing day, when police were alerted to social media messages involving an alleged threat at the school.
Initial reports on the morning of Feb. 5 were alarming. A Twitter message threatened to shoot up the school.
Staff and officers immediately handled the situation, but shortly thereafter, another report came to police—involving a math student who was talking about information he had about someone planning to shoot up the school, an initial complaint report said. Through investigation, it was found that the student was text messaging with a student in California.
Suspicious events like this should be reported. On any given week, police respond to many, many false alarms—fire alarms going off, hold-up alarms at banks, suspicious cars driving through a neighborhood, and people acting strange in the middle of the night. But what if the threats proved imminent? Well, they often do.
It is encouraged to report behavior that is unordinary.
Just like police appreciate and encourage neighbors to keep a watchful eye over other neighbors' properties, police appreciate the students who raised a safety issue in their school last month.
Several students did the right thing. They looked out for each other.
Vague said in the letter:
"The safety of our children and our schools is our top priority. Woodbury police officers worked with the local FBI office to conducted a thorough investigation. We examined numerous social media posts including text messages, Twitter and Snapchat. Using computer forensics, we validated the various messages, constructed a timeline and verified the chain of events. After interviewing the students who were directly involved, we determined that while a few showed poor judgment, there was no actual threat or criminal intent."
After a completed investigation, Woodbury Public pumped up its presence during the activities of Winter Week, in hopes of ensuring a safe environment, according to Vague.
"I greatly appreciate our partnership with School District 833 and the cooperation with Woodbury High School," Vague wrote. "And while I understand this incident has caused fear and alarm, I must commend the students and families who spoke up and contact the police when things did not seem right.
"Please use this as an opportunity to talk with your student about your expectations and their use of social media. Together we keep our community a safe place."
Editorials are written by Woodbury Bulletin Editor Mathias Baden unless otherwise noted.