Riverside police say school shooting threat 'fictitious'

Began as anonymous SnapChat message about fireworks

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By Bob Uphues


Riverside police and Riverside-Brookfield High School officials say a reported threat about a shooting at the school is fictitious and resulted from a social media game of telephone that originated with a vague SnapChat message about fireworks that was sent to an RBHS student during the early morning hours of April 4.

Police Chief Thomas Weitzel told the Landmark that a parent of an RBHS student called police at 1:37 a.m. to report the message. Weitzel described the message as "a picture of a SnapChat conversation" that had been sent anonymously to the student. Someone in the conversation mentions fireworks and later the word "shooting" is mentioned.

The people in the SnapChat message were unknown to the student, nor did the message at any time mention Riverside-Brookfield High School or any other school. Weitzel said the sender's phone number was not listed was one originating from the United States and likely was from a "burner" phone, whose numbers can't be traced.

Police investigated through the night, but by morning, Weitzel said, the message had been shared with other students. By the time school started, the message morphed, Weitzel said, into a specific threat about a shooting at Riverside-Brookfield High School.

"There was so much embellishing going on here," Weitzel said. "There was very little that was actually factual."

Parents flooded West Central Consolidated Communication (WC3) with calls, Weitzel said, and police responded by posting two uniformed police officers at the school for the remainder of the school day "just as a precaution to make students, parents and staff feel safe."

A message posted to the home page of the Riverside-Brookfield High School website, noted that a threatening "text message" had been sent to "a few students" and that there would be an increased police presence for the day.

"School will continue to operate as a regular school day," the message states.

In response to an inquiry from the Landmark, school Superintendent Kevin Skinkis texted, "Police have been on scene since 8 a.m. doing a thorough investigation with the administration. No credible threat."


Email: buphues@wjinc.com Twitter: @RBLandmark

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