Police, Bonneville, Syracuse high officials chase shooting rumors

Dec 19 2012 - 7:21am

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Top of Utah school officials and police have been busy for two days chasing down rumors, spread across Facebook and Twitter, regarding potential shootings at local high schools.

Davis School District spokesman Christopher Williams said that as far as anyone can tell, the rumors on the social networks started with a school in the east and have spread across the country, with claims that a shooting will happen at one of the local high schools.

But officials are taking the rumors seriously.

Read the letter sent home by Bonneville High

Principal Ray Long arrived at Bonneville High School in Washington Terrace early Tuesday with a Weber County sheriff's deputy and swept the building to make sure it was safe before students arrived for class.

"I was up late last night answering text messages from worried parents," Long said.

A student reported to administrators on Monday that he had read on Facebook about a shooting that may happen sometime during the week at the high school, Long said.

"We took an active role concerning any rumor about our students' safety," he said. "Our students' safety is a top priority."

Long said there was no talk about a gun being brought to the school.

Davis School District also dealt with its share of rumors, Williams said.

"We have heard of rumors that something is going to happen at Syracuse High School," Williams said.

The district offices and the school were inundated with phone calls from concerned parents.

Emails and letters were sent home to parents concerning what the district is doing to protect students.

"We can't take it lightly," Williams said.

An investigation is ongoing, and the district has stepped up security at the school, he said.

According to the letter sent to the parents, Syracuse police are conducting an investigation into the source of the rumors.

"At this point, all rumors have been totally unsubstantiated, and no student has been able to identify who started the rumors," states the letter.

Read the letter sent home by Syracuse High School

Schools in Weber and Davis school districts are taking extra precautions besides increasing security.

Students and visitors will only be allowed to enter through main doors at Bonneville, Long said. The other nonessential doors from the outside of the school are locked.

Also, extra Weber County sheriff's deputies were at Bonneville High School on Tuesday and will be there as long as administrators believe it is necessary, Long said.

Long sent an email to parents about the multiple postings on Facebook and Twitter.

"While this may be a very inappropriate hoax, we are taking precautions for the safety of our students," he wrote.

He also is asking anyone with more information about the rumors or threats to contact the school or the Weber County Sheriff's Office.

Weber County Sheriff's Lt. Mark Lowther said in a news release that officers are investigating the rumor of a possible gun threat that was spread through social media.

"When contacted, not a single student can name a subject who has stated they were bringing a gun to school," Lowther wrote. "However, the Weber County Sheriff's Office has increased security at Bonneville High. Details of, and the type and deployment of that security will not be discussed."

Nate Taggart, spokesman for the Weber School District, said all schools in the district have taken the extra precaution of locking doors to the outside, limiting access so visitors and students enter only through the main doors.

"This is unfortunate this has happened," Taggart said. "If someone is playing a hoax, it's like yelling 'bomb' in an airport. It's not a funny joke."

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