Social media rumors about a school shooting threat, which authorities said were “completely fictitious,” prompted an increased police presence Thursday at a Riverside high school.
The parents of a Riverside Brookfield High School student called police at 1:37 a.m. after the student received an anonymous text message that contained a picture of a Snapchat conversation, according to Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel.
The conversation made reference to “fireworks,” followed by someone asking the original poster whether they meant a shooting, Weitzel said. The first person then responded with “I’m not a school shooter.”
While the conversation in the image never mentioned RBHS or any other school, it was passed around by RBHS students, who at some point added that there was going to be a shooting at the school at 11:45 a.m. on Thursday.
The school, located at 160 Ridgewood Road, has one full-time resource officer, and a second uniformed police officer has been stationed at the school out of “an over-abundance of caution,” Weitzel said.
“First of all, that was never in the text, there was never a mention of any Riverside school, let alone our high school,” he said. “There was no mention of any school, nor was there really a mention of a school shooting. And there was no mention of a time. What happened is other students added to the social media post that there was going to be a shooting at 11:45, which is completely fictitious.”
He said the only connection between the initial Snapchat conversation and RBHS is the fact that the student who received the text attends the school.
RBHS Principal Kristin Smetana sent a message to parents Thursday morning stating that “a few students reported receiving anonymous text messages that were fictitious in nature” and said there would be an increased police presence at the school as a precaution.
“School will continue to operate as a regular school day,” she wrote.
Detectives are still trying to determine who sent the original text, Weitzel said.
Detectives traced the number that the text was sent from, but it came back as a phone number from outside the U.S., according to Weiztel. Investigators are looking into whether it came from a prepaid “burner” phone or whether the number was spoofed.