A number of local schools were on alert Monday after a threat made on social media – a threat authorities say originated in New Mexico.
A snapchat post said ‘CHS I’m going out with a bang,’ prompting more officers Monday at three shelby county high schools with ‘CHS’ as its initials; Cordova, Craigmont, and Central. In addition to more law enforcement than normal at Central, students told Local 24 they went through metal detectors, a rarity there.
New Mexico authorities arrested and charged the original poster. But since the threat also circulated in Shelby County, it was taken seriously.
“That’s the thing about social media. It’s good and then it’s bad,” said Molly Read, grandparent of Central High student. “It can get you information quicker but can also spread disinformation faster.”
The bad side of social media proved itself in this snapchat post. The message of a vague school threat with a school initialed ‘CHS’ alerted law enforcement in more than 20 states, including Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
“We need to teach our students to not retweet veiled threats of any kind,” said Anthony Alexander, parent of Central High student. “That should be a message to all the kids to ‘do not retweet’ potentially dangerous messages.”
Even though a 17-year-old New Mexico boy accused of making the post is in custody, extra Memphis police and Shelby County deputies patrolled around Cordova, Craigmont, and Central High School campuses as a precaution.
“You have it to take seriously, you can’t take it light,” said Catherine Farris, parent of Central High student.
Investigators aren’t taking these threatening social media posts lightly, and said those who repost them can face accessory charges.
Since the Parkland, Florida high school massacre February 14th, Mid-South authorities responded to online threats at nearly a dozen schools, including two schools in Collierville February 28th.
“If they would disregard it as a hoax and then it turns out to be real, then who is going to take the blame for that, so I can’t really blame them for being cautious,” said Alexander. “With the last event in Florida, that’s probably why they have a super heightened sense of security, so I can’t be mad, you never can be too cautious.”
The superintendent of Collierville schools told Local 24 since officials knew the threat originated from New Mexico before school Monday, extra officers were not brought in to Collierville High School.
Shelby County authorities know of two local people who reposted the picture, but we are told neither will be charged.
SCS does have an anonymous tip line, and district leaders and police remind parents and students to always alert suspicious social media posts to that line or to the authorities.