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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Child will face ‘consequences’ for alleged threats against local schools

By Alexandra Duggan and Garrett Cabeza The Spokesman-Review

A local child will face “consequences” for threats made Thursday night on social media against local schools that caused “substantial, undue anxiety across our community” and were ultimately deemed not credible, Spokane Public Schools said in an email to parents and staff.

The email neither identified the child nor specified what the consequences will be. Spokane Public Schools officials could not be reached Friday afternoon.

Spokane police spokeswoman Julie Humphreys said criminal charges are pending against the child. Humphreys said she could not provide identifying information because of the ongoing investigation.

“Law enforcement agencies are continually increasing their capacity to identify individuals who make social media threats,” the school district email said. “While we are unable to share specific information, we feel confident that the situation is being addressed and the threat was not credible. Our Campus Safety Specialists have been working closely with SPD since we first became aware of the situation, and district personnel will continue to cooperate by providing access and answering questions.”

Humphreys said schools “get a lot of” the kind of threats sent Thursday.

The post was circulating around 8:30 p.m. Thursday . Spokane police began working to determine the source of the threat and communicating with the schools the post named.

Around 5 a.m. Friday, school officials met with police and decided to move forward with the school day. Police were on scene Friday morning at specific schools as an abundance of caution, Humphreys said.

She also said the police department was contacted about a similar threat last week. It was a “nationwide” threat posted from another state on Snapchat, a social media app. The threat was reposted in Spokane, prompting further investigation.

Spokane Public Schools spokesperson Ryan Lancaster said in an email that schools have seen an increase in online threats over the past several years. When determining whether a threat is credible, officials look to see where the threat originated, which account it came from and on which day.

They look at who originally received the threat and the type of relationship between the person who posted it and the person who received it, as well as how specific the threat is. Lancaster said officials also try to determine whether the person who posted the threat has any ties to the school they’re targeting, what their age could be and what could’ve happened before the threat was made. Another factor is scouting national threats to see whether those are similar to threats being made locally.

Spokane Public Schools wrote in an email to parents Friday morning that it continues to condemn the behavior that is “intended to create fear and panic in our community,” and all threats against the local schools are taken seriously.

SPS thanked those who reported information to the school district and law enforcement Thursday night.