SOUTH CENTRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A threatening photo posted on social media put school districts all across the country on alert, including a high school in Columbia County.
Although the threat was very real, it wasn’t actually a threat for the school in our area.
The principal of Central Columbia High School in South Centre Township became aware of a threatening social media post that targeted a school with the initials “C.H.S.”
School officials and local and state police responded, and students were put on lockdown for almost two hours before it was determined there was, in fact, no threat.
A Snapchat photo of a person holding a rifle, and a caption that says “F C H S. I’m going out with a bang,” made it on the phones of students and faculty at Central Columbia High School by early Monday morning.
“It happened before students started getting to school, so we had to make judgments on what to do. It was a threat that showed a gun in the picture,” explained Central Columbia Superintendent Harry Mathias.
Students were redirected to the middle school when they arrived on campus Monday morning, where they remained on lockdown for almost two hours.
“I didn’t know about the situation until my friend came up to me and told me about it. I was uneasy. But I was fine when I came inside. It seemed like everyone had everything under control. Got the police here, had teachers keeping everyone calm that were uneasy,” said junior Jared Verse.
The threat wasn’t exactly fake, but it wasn’t for Central Columbia High School. The student made the threat for his high school last week in New Mexico.
But when students here in Columbia saw the post, they shared it, thinking they were spreading the word.
“They saw something, then copied it and passed it along. That’s why there was this domino effect. A few of them passed it along.”
The student who made the original threat in a Snapchat post was arrested last week, but when the photo resurfaced again this week on Instagram, schools all around the country with the initials C.H.S. took precaution.
“What you’re supposed to do when you get something like this is report it, not pass it along causing hysteria among the student body. So we’re going to have some discussions about that with some students.”
Schools in Maryland, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Idaho, and Tennessee all with the same initials had similar scares.
State police and South Centre Township police were able to tie the photo to last week’s arrest in New Mexico.
“While it’s an active situation, there’s a while there that we didn’t know. I sent out a telephone message to the community just after 7:15 saying that we have a threat, at this point it’s an open issue,” Mathias said.
The school district superintendent says some parents decided to keep their kids home, but a second call was made around 9 a.m. informing the community that there was absolutely no threat to the high school.