WASHINGTON — Fears that a Fairfax County, Virginia, school was under threat for some kind of attack were unfounded, police say.
Fairfax County Police were contacted Thursday morning by a tipster who was worried that Robinson Secondary School was being targeted for violence.
The fears all seemed to be traceable to a social media post by a 15-year-old Robinson student, police Lt. Eli Cory said.
“It all started on Tuesday evening,” Cory said. The student had posted a photo of himself holding an airsoft pellet gun. “He didn’t make any threats of any kind. It was just a picture, but several students saw the picture, they started to share it, and rumors started to spread.”
On Wednesday, Cory said, Fairfax County police were called to the school because the same student was found with drugs.
On Thursday morning, police were contacted by a tipster who had seen the original social media post and rumors about a threat to the school. At that point, Cory said, police began to investigate and found no credible threat.
They did talk to the same 15-year-old student, who admitted he had brought the airsoft gun — which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets — to school on Wednesday, but then hid it off school property. Thursday morning, the student led police to where he stashed the pellet gun in a creek. The student faces charges related to the drugs, Cory said.
Fairfax County school officials, spokesman John Torre said, sent a letter to parents Thursday morning that stated: “The source of the rumors has been identified and interviewed. Based on those conversations, we have determined the rumors are not credible and we are confident that there is no current risk to students or staff.”
While no credible threat was found, the letter said that an assembly scheduled for Wednesday morning was canceled and that there would be additional security at the school for the next two days.
Cory is grateful that the tipster contacted police to check out the rumors. And he added that social media isn’t the correct platform for alerting the community to possible threats. “Social media is a great tool,” however, Corey said, “if there’s an immediate threat — or something’s in the works and we need to know about it — call 911 or call our non-emergency number, 703-691-2131.”
“Social media is not quick enough for something of this importance,” he said. “It can be misconstrued. It’s not accurate and quick enough.”
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