UPDATED: Snapchat threat brought lockdown, police to MCHS, but no weapons found
Social media post specifically mentioned school’s ‘fourth hour,’ but originator has not been identified
A threat that initiated on social media app Snapchat was responsible for the lockdown and police investigation at Moffat County High School Friday afternoon, though no evidence to lend the threat material credibility was discovered.
Moffat County High School was on high alert Friday afternoon after students first reported the threat not long before 1 p.m., according to MCHS principal Sarah Hepworth. Police locked the school down for approximately three hours, placing it on the district-adopted “hold” status during that period.
Police were called to the building at the first student report of the threat, according to Hepworth, but after Craig Police’s near-immediate arrival, a flood of further reports from students of the same threat came into school administration.
“It quickly went viral,” Hepworth said.
Law enforcement, which was led by Craig Police and included support by the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, searched students, stationed armed sentries throughout the school and searched the school thoroughly after a controlled dismissal of the students and staff.
“Nothing was found, and our building is safe,” a Friday evening release from Hepworth reads. “Both school and police department investigations will continue in an attempt to discover the originator of this threat or anyone else involved.”
Hepworth explained that police and administration attempted to trace the threat back from those who had reported it to its source, but due in part to the vanishing nature of Snapchat posts and in part to the spiderweb-like network through which the message proliferated itself, they had not yet been able to determine the originator Saturday early afternoon. The investigation, Hepworth said, will continue.
Hepworth declined to share the exact text of the threat in order to avoid glorifying it. But she said the content specifically mentioned the school’s “fourth hour,” which is the final session of the day at MCHS.
“The real heroes are our students, who were brave enough to come forward and report this, and then who did so well following our protocols,” Hepworth said. “And then of course the other heroes are the police who came and helped us feel safe. I looked and saw them stationed throughout the school, and that helped me feel like we would be able to avoid any loss of life if something did happen, which, thank goodness, it didn’t.”
The “hold” protocol is based on a safety system that’s in its first year of implementation at MCHS from a group called “I Love You Guys.” The group was created by the father of a student who died in the Columbine High School shooting. Hold is the first of several levels of security, and involves students remaining in locked classrooms with few exceptions.
Hepworth said that a number of students were allowed to leave early after submitting to a search prior to the controlled release of the full student body.
The school released a notice Thursday evening about being on alert as a result of what national authorities said was an unsubstantiated rumor of a nationwide social media “challenge,” supposedly on the app TikTok, that allegedly involved violence in schools on Dec. 17. It’s not clear whether Friday’s threat was related — and if so how — to the notoriety surrounding this supposed challenge.
Hepworth noted that the situation was somewhat eased by the fact that the roughly 500 students who attend MCHS were not all in the building at the time the threat was reported. Several athletic teams had already left for out-of-town competitions, she said, noting that a number of parents had also held their kids home from school out of concern sparked by the TikTok story.
All extracurricular and after-school activities were canceled Friday, but were back on schedule Saturday afternoon. School will resume as normal Monday.
Craig Police had not returned a Friday night call as of this update Saturday afternoon requesting more details. The story will be updated as more details become available.
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Come Jan. 27, Moffat County School District could be looking ahead to a new type of school week.