Viral school violence warning puts parents, police, districts on high alert – NBC Connecticut
From cancellation of classes to early dismissal, a wave of threats on social media disrupted school for many in Connecticut on Friday.
The state and local police said the threats, which circulated across the country, were a hoax.
Still, those behind them are in the hot water, including several students from Connecticut.
Wolcott Police Chief said he had all officers, detectives, school resource officers and security officers present when the schools opened today.
âToday was the safest day of school all year,â said Chief Edward Stephens.
A day after brawls broke out in high school, the wave of threats on social media became too disruptive for the learning environment, according to Superintendent Dr.Anthony Gasper. He informed parents on Friday morning that all schools would lay off early.
âThere is basically a crisis of fear or threat going on not only in the state of Connecticut but across the country,â said Brian Foley, deputy commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
Schools in Norwich, Sprague and Region 10 have closed while others have remained on high alert. Police departments diverted manpower and resources to school buildings.
âThere were more police officers in our schools, not just here in this city, but in every city in this state,â Stephens said.
Police said the students weren’t actually anticipating violence, but disruption.
âWe see the root behind a lot of this because kids want to get out of school,â Foley said.
âNone of the school shootings that I have been to in recent history, they never signal that something is going to happen,â Stephens said.
Children are resilient, but even they have their limits, according to Dr. Melissa Santos, chief of the pediatric psychology department at Connecticut Children’s.
Santos stressed the toll this pandemic has taken on students.
âNothing feels the same. The house is not the same. The school does not feel the same. Being with friends is not the same. Nothing feels the same. That’s the hard part in this whole pandemic, is that nothing is like it was before, âshe said.
Every threat, even those deemed not to be credible, is not without consequences.
âThere is going to be an arrest, your child is going to be arrested,â Stephens said.
A 13-year-old teenager in Naugatuck, who police say shared a social media post suggesting his classmates stay at home, has been arrested on a public order violation, police say.
“There have been multiple arrests by Connecticut State Police and local law enforcement agencies statewide on charges,” Foley said of the Dec. 17 hoax.
As threats are made anonymously in the shadows of social media, Foley said cyber detectives are experts at finding the person behind the keyboard.
They are detectives who are experts in this area and have the connections there, they also have the connections to the operators – your WiFi services, the communications operators of the state. In between, they are able to develop an IP address fairly quickly and find out who and where the source of the information is coming from.