BURLEY — Online threats prompted an increased law enforcement presence Tuesday at a few Magic Valley school campuses.
At Cassia County and Minidoka County schools, some students saw school shooting threats on social media Monday night. In Jerome, a student was reportedly threatened via Instagram.
Cassia County Sheriff‘s officials think the message that was given to them by a Burley High School parent may have originated from an Xbox video game system in Texas.
“There are no lockdowns at the schools, and the schools are safe,” said district spokeswoman Debbie Critchfield. “We haven’t been advised by law enforcement to put any school in lockdown.”
The Jerome Police Department received several phone calls Tuesday morning about rumors circulating of a shooting at Jerome High School. Police Chief Dan Hall said no threats were made toward the school, and there’s no credible or imminent danger.
Over the weekend, Jerome police received a report of a person who received threats via Instagram, Hall said. As a precaution, extra police officers are expected to patrol near near Jerome High School for the next few days.
Police received information of an individual student who received threats from another student, Jerome School District Superintendent Dale Layne said, adding it may have been an ex-boyfriend situation.
Everyone is on high alert and classroom doors are locked, Layne said, but classes are proceeding as normal.
Extra adults are outside the school building when students are walking to outdoor classes like the agriculture building. Layne said the Jerome High School has provided information to parents.
The Twin Falls School District hasn’t received any reports of online threats, district spokeswoman Eva Craner said. There wasn’t school Monday for President’s Day and students were off again Tuesday due to a teacher workday.
In Cassia County, the message a Burley High School student saw on social media did not mention a specific school, Critchfield said.
Cassia County Sheriff Jay Heward said the message read, “I’m not playing I’m actually going to shoot up the school so don’t come Monday or Tuesday.”
“It was a random threat, and it didn’t originate from here,” Heward said. “We’re not sure where it came from, but we believe it may have been from an Xbox in Texas.”
Heward said they believe it may have come from Texas because officers spoke with a student who was playing a game online with people from Texas.
The sheriff’s office will have deputies at Burley High School today.
Critchfield said a message about the incident was sent out through the district’s messaging system to parents.
“Since the Florida shooting we have upped our presence at the schools but we have officers present at the schools every day,” Heward said.
Minidoka County School Superintendent Ken Cox said Minidoka County law enforcement will also be at Minico High School and do periodic checks with the other schools in the county.
Cox said he saw a photograph of the message that essentially referenced the Florida school shooting and showed a picture of a person in a ski mask with an assault rifle.
“In my opinion, assault rifles are not used for hunting,” Cox said. “I know that’s an unpopular opinion in Idaho.”
Cox said they will have officers at the schools because students don’t always know the threat is not credible and they can become afraid, he said.
“We don’t mess around,” he said. “We can’t.”