Student's Snapchat prank sends armed response to their house

A cautionary tale from Stearns County.
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A student's ill-advised prank Snapchat post led to an armed response being sent to his central Minnesota house.

The incident happened earlier this month in Stearns County, with the sheriff's office saying it received a report on Mar. 21 from a local school counselor.

The school in question hasn't been named, but the counselor said a younger student had approached them about a Snapchat they'd receiving from a fellow student, who wasn't in school that day.

The "snap" contained a message that said: "Please help me, someone is in my house with a gun. I’m hiding under my bed."

Further messages to the student received no response, prompting the report to police.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office said its response was "not routine," forcing them to call in for backup from the Cold Spring Police Department given the potential danger of the report.

But when the student answered, they "appeared to be very happy," and was at home with their father and younger siblings.

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"What started out as a joke had the potential to place the responding deputies, officers and public in danger," the Stearns County Sheriff's Office said. "By the time the officers left, the student understood what they did was wrong. It’s important to note that the student receiving the Snapchat absolutely did the right thing."

"Information like this needs to be passed on in case it is true. The real problem was the attempted joke, which failed miserably. Thankfully, no one was hurt and it was only a very unfunny joke."

The incident follows another report that same week in Princeton, Minnesota, that police said was an example of "swatting" – making a false firearms report to send a SWAT/armed response to somebody's house.

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