Shooting Threat: “misinterpreted”

Deena Kassem and Katie Lins

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  The shooting threat that circulated the halls of Wayzata High School on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018, was false, according to Wayzata High School Police Liaison Steve Dahlson. “There was never really a threat,” said Dahlson.
  “Somebody made a comment on social media, that misinterpreted what was being said. Do you guys remember playing the game of telephone in kindergarten? It starts out as one thing and by the end of the game, it’s a completely different message,” said Wayzata High School Police Liaison John Goldman. “It kind of just got blown out of proportion.”
  As far as the source of the threat, police are aware of who made the original Snapchat post, not who misinterpreted the comment into a threat.

  “We worked in partnership with law enforcement to identify the origin of these social media posts. They have ways of contacting different social media sites to determine where some of these threats originate online,” said Wayzata High School Principal Scott Gengler.   “Unfortunately, I think students in the community believed they knew who sent the threat. I can assure you that the identification of the threat being tied to any particular individual or student is inaccurate. There has been no identification of any student at this point.”
  The threat came to the attention of Gengler around 6:30 that morning. “I received an email from a parent that had a copy of the picture with the threat. The picture was floating around and I was also getting phone calls from the superintendent,” said Gengler.
  According to Gengler, a team including the superintendent, administration, district representation, and law enforcement was created in order to both assess the threat and make a joint decision towards security precautions.
  “The threat was all resolved by 8 o’clock in the morning,” said Dahlson.
  According to Gengler, the district chose to keep classes in session. “We didn’t find any credibility to the threat. We couldn’t find any ties to that threat and the students at the school,” said Gengler.
  Preventative measures were still taken that day with increased police presence and rearranged supervision. It was made sure that all access points were “secured and staffed,” according to Gengler.
  “I can understand if kids were feeling unsafe or parents were concerned and pulling students out of school for the day. We believe that the safest place to be is in a classroom so it was a little disheartening to see the increased number of students unsupervised or in the hallways waiting for a pass to leave,” said Gengler. “In my opinion, although I understand the rationale for not feeling safe and secured, it actually increased the anxiety in the building for a lot of students who were choosing to stay in school and believed it was a safe place to be.”
  “The police liaisons are trained to react and respond. They would go immediately to the source of the threat and do what they need to do to keep people safe,” said Gengler.
  “Our first job is to stop the threat as fast as possible, then our second job after that is to coordinate an evacuation of the building,”said Goldman.
  “There is not a day that goes by where I am not thinking about student and staff safety and what we can do to ensure a positive learning experience for everybody,” said Gengler. “It’s unfortunate that we have to live more alert to our surroundings and be conscientious when in public settings. I don’t recall ever getting a threat like that.”

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