Two Stillwater Junior High School students could face charges after police say they created a fake Twitter account under a classmate's name and tweeted threats toward the school.
The threats were discovered on Twitter Thursday, and the Stillwater Police Department was notified by multiple citizens outside Minnesota, the FBI, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Sgt. Jeff Stender told BringMeTheNews.
The tweet said in part that cyber bullies are "going to be sorry," then noted a family member just bought a new gun. It also included three pistol emojis and an excited heart-eyes face.
In addition to the apparent threat, the account includes a barrage of tweets with hateful language and images directed toward Jews, as well as other racial slurs.
2 students were 'picking on' another
Very quickly, investigators identified the student who appeared to be tweeting and removed him from class for questioning – but after a few minutes, realized he had no idea what was going on.
He suggested two other students may be behind it. They were then brought in, and after some questioning admitted to faking the account and posting the tweets, according to Stender.
"They were in essence picking on this kid," Stender said, later adding: "They just knew that they would cause this kid problems so they did it."
Charges are possible after an investigation
The two students aren't in custody, and they're not considered a threat.
But police are investigating, and Stender said they'll be requesting data from Twitter as part of the process. It could potentially lead to charges of disorderly conduct or terroristic threats.
Stender though said the kids never intended the threat to be credible, didn't bring any weapons to school, and didn't have any plans to do so.
"I think they didn’t think through the unintended consequences," Stender said.
Social media threats toward schools
The group National School Safety and Security Services did a study of threats toward schools during the start of the 2014 school year. There were 814 total across the U.S., up 158 percent from the previous year.
The study found social media was exacerbating the problem – social media threats (usually Twitter, Facebook or Instagram) account for 231 of the cases.
In addition, the anonymous apps (Yik Yak, Snapchat, Whisper, etc. etc.) make it even harder for officials to keep tabs on who is posting.
"The fact of the matter is, it’s not funny, based on the climate in the United States today," Stender said about the threat Thursday. "School shootings aren’t funny. No one is going to think it’s funny. And you cause a ton of terror in the community."