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Two students at Evanston Township High School are in apparent deep trouble today with school officials for spreading a rumor on social media about a possible shooting planned for today at the school.

Detectives at the Evanston Police Department termed the rumor a “major misunderstanding” on the part of two female students who were concerned about taking a test today at the school.

Early today, the school sent an email notice to parents that told of the rumor, triggered by “a screenshot image that was posted and shared rapidly on social media.”

The statement said that Evanston police were notified immediately and that after an investigation had made a determination that “no actual plan to bring a gun into the school or ‘shoot up the school’ ever existed.”

The notice concluded that “at no time was there a threat to the safety of any student or staff member at Evanston Township High School.”

Police said that its investigation concluded that the girl who first received the rumor sent it to another, who in turn sent it to someone else, and that the rumor quickly went viral on the internet.

Nevertheless, they said, extra patrols have been established today around the school for reassurance, “but there was never an actual threat.”

And the statement from the school said “the school will take actions as warranted by district policies against the student making the false statements, as well as the student who posted the original screenshot on social media, which caused a disruption to the school day.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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3 Comments

  1. Chlling
    This is scary on two levels. First the prospect of a school shooting and second that students can be in trouble for sending what they know about it to their friends. If someone was deliberately sending false information, that is bad behavior, but if they did not know and simply forwarded what they had, then that is different. I hope the school and the police recognize the difference.

    What should a student do if he or she sees online content implying planned violence? Forwarding it to friends is a risk b/c if it turns out to be a hoax they are in trouble. Not forwarding it is bad if it turns out not to be a hoax.

    Encourage you kids to learn how to send content anonymously so that it cannot be traced back to them.

  2. The entire story?

    Here is the text of the screen shot that spread through students’ social media accounts last night:

    Person #1: Don’t go to school tomorrow.  Someone is planning to shoot up the school.

    Person #2: Are you serious?

    Person #1: Dead [inappropriate word deleted but the expression signifies that the answer is yes]

    Person #2: How did you hear that?

    Person #1: The police came to my house bc some kid told my sister To not come to school cuz he wants to shoot the school

    Person #2: The person goes to eths?

    Person #1: Ye

    Person #2: wtf?

    Person #1: Yep

    “Major MIsunderstanding”?  The person who allegedly threatened to shoot up the school is referred to as “he”.  But it was a misunderstanding between two girls concerned about taking a test?

  3. rumors
    I give much more credence to school authorities and the police than I do to high school students on social media and anonymous individuals who can and do post all kinds of irresponsible and inaccurate statements on social media. If your student knows of danger at school, he or she should call the police hot line immediately.

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