A Facebook post from a Del Norte County woman on Thursday sparked panic on social media about a potential threat against local students.
The Facebook post appeared on The Del Norte and Curry County Scanner Feed and shows a picture of a student with the caption that he has made a hit list for Redwood School, Smith River School, Castle Rock Charter School and Del Norte High School. However, according to Del Norte County Sheriff Erik Apperson, the woman’s post is based on an incident that occurred in February and has since been investigated.
The original Facebook post has since been removed from the Del Norte and Curry County Scanner Feed.
Though he couldn’t go into specific details about the Facebook post since it involves a minor, Apperson said the student in question had been in the woman’s care. But, Apperson said, the woman “doesn’t really have any information” on the student, who has been out of her care for several months.
Apperson said the sheriff’s office interviewed the student on Thursday and has regular contact with him.
The student appears to be doing well, Apperson said.
“The original threat wasn’t a threat,” Apperson said, adding that the hit list against Redwood School was determined to be unfounded. “We investigated it thoroughly with multiple agencies and lots of resources.”
Del Norte County Unified School District officials were notified of the potential threat of violence against students and staff at multiple school sites at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. However, after communicating with law enforcement agencies, the district was notified that there was no viable threat
According to Michael Hawkins, the district’s public information officer, the district learned of the potential threat after parents, students and employees forwarded the Facebook post to administrators.
“We got in contact with police and law enforcement immediately because we don’t want to mess around with that type of stuff,” Hawkins said. “After talking with them, they said this is ongoing, this is something they’re monitoring and at this moment it’s not a viable threat, which kind of set everybody up in arms because there (was) very little context for why it was not a viable threat.”
Hawkins said the idea of a hit list was what alarmed parents the most. Those parents, Hawkins said, were the most vocal about voicing their concerns via social media.
“Our social media was really going crazy because we had all these parents who read that article and in their mind there could be some nefarious plan that could have put their children in danger,” he said. “We’re depending on law enforcement agencies around here to do due diligence and I’m sure they’re going to spend an extra amount of effort checking on the student, figuring out what caused this and confirming that he is being watched, he is being monitored.”
Asked how the student at the center of the Facebook post is doing, Apperson said since he is in foster care, the student has support through Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Del Norte County. The Del Norte County mental health branch, the Department of Health and Human Services, county probation and the sheriff’s office is also offering support to the student, Apperson said.
“We reached out to him,” he said. “I’m on the board for CASA so I know CASA reached out to him as well. We got a lot of people that are offering him support.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .