An online post that showed a photo of a school area with a gun emoji led to an investigation, and a teenager being taken into custody.
The school district of Pillager, in central Minnesota, posted a message to parents and community members on Facebook, saying a photo of the Pillager High School Commons Area with the words "I hate everyone" and a revolver emoji were posted to a social website. It did not specifically target an individual.
"This posting is alarming and will be taken seriously," the message says. "The safety of our students is our top priority and we will have an increased law enforcement presence throughout the school today."
The Brainerd Dispatch reports a parent reported the anonymous post Wednesday night. By Thursday afternoon, a female student believed to be connected was taken into custody.
Statistically: A growing issue
National School and Safety Services, a school safety consulting firm based on Ohio, said last year violent school threats are on the rise. Although the majority turn out to be hoaxes, they should all be investigated and taken seriously, according to the group.
The organization reviewed 812 school threats across the country from 2014, and found that social media was the platform for threats 28 percent of the time.
Minnesota accounted for eight of those those total threats, ranking 31st out of 50 states.
"Bomb threats are one of the most common hazards schools face," says the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. "Threats can be written, verbal or rumored. The potential for violent incidents involving explosive devices presents an ongoing challenge for schools."
Recent threats in Minnesota schools
- Just last month, police investigated a bomb threat that was written on the wall in the boys' bathroom at Aitkin High School.
- On Jan. 8, a 13-year-old student in New Ulm gave his teacher a note that said, “There would be a suicide bomb if finals were not cancelled,” the Mankato Free Press reports.
- Fairmount schools were placed on high alert after a teenager referenced the Columbine massacre anonymously on the app Yik Yak in October. A 17-year-old was placed in custody.
- Rosemount Middle School received a bomb threat message last November – but the call was a hoax and was traced back to a 30-year-old Milaca man, who was charged in January.