Crime & Courts

Online threat was ‘innocent post’ taken out of context, school district says

Updated: An online post that spurred several 911 and Crime Stoppers calls over a possible threat of gun violence at Truesdell Middle School “was a case of something posted on social media being shared and embellished until it rose to that level of attention,” Wichita Public Schools spokeswoman Susan Arensman said in an email Monday afternoon.

“Based on updated information, it was determined that a fight was not behind the social media threat,” she wrote. Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred said during a 10 a.m. news briefing Monday that a fight between two girls and a boy may have prompted the alleged threat.

Arensman said Truesdell principal Vicki Manning updated parents on the progress of the investigation in an email sent between 11:30 a.m. and noon Monday.

In that message, Manning wrote that police have determined “there was NO THREAT to Truesdell.”

“It started as an innocent post on social media Friday night got taken out of context and students shared it and added false information to it,” Manning wrote.

“I want to repeat that there was no credible threat towards Truesdell.”

She encouraged parents to ask their children “to think carefully about what they post and share on social media, which can perpetuate rumors.”

No one was hurt and no arrests had been made as of Monday morning. But police sent extra officers to the school Monday morning as a precaution, Allred said.

“Students embellishing the social media posts caused a lot of fear and concern. Their actions can have far-reaching consequences,” Manning’s email said.

Original story: Wichita police say a fight between two girls and a boy might have prompted an online post threatening a shooting at Truesdell Middle School.

Capt. Brent Allred said Monday that authorities were working with the Wichita Public School District to determine whether the threat is credible.

In the meantime, more officers than usual were at the south Wichita middle school on Monday as a precaution.

No one had been arrested in connection with the case as of Monday morning.

“I know sometimes people think that it’s a joke. But it’s not a joke to anybody nowadays,” Allred said. “And we don’t take it as a joke. We take it very seriously.”

Allred said Crime Stoppers and 911 dispatchers received several tips at 7:10 p.m. Sunday about social media posts threatening gun violence at the school, 2464 S. Glenn.

“We were aware of it. We are aware of it. We’re investigating. There’s several people we’re going to talk to,” Allred said.

The posts, he said, might have started “over a fight ... between two juvenile females and a male boyfriend.”

“We’ve seen these before posted on social media, which raises everybody’s alert level extremely high which is reasonable due to the gun violence in schools over the country,” he said.

Officers spoke with several Truesdell students Sunday night or Monday morning, hoping to learn who is making the threats, Allred said. They’re planning to interview more.

“Hopefully we can get to the end of this. We can talk to them and see what goes from there.”

Whoever is responsible could face criminal charges,” he said.

“It’s unwanted, unneeded and if we find out who makes these threats — which we have before — we’ll arrest you and present the case for criminal threats.”

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.