Scores of Metro Detroit schools shut down early or were closed Thursday due to unspecified threats on social media following this week’s mass shooting at Oxford High School.
Some of the pictures being shared on social media are from prior shootings and threats. Law enforcement officials have urged people — and some media outlets — to not feed into a cycle of misinformation.
“Those kinds of warnings escalated to a point where they said we’re just going to err on the side of caution. It doesn’t mean that these are credible threats, but they have to assume that everything is credible.” –Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said over 60 local schools closed over concerns Thursday. Bouchard said the threats shared on Thursday are not credible and people should not share them.
“There was another threat that turned out to be out of Georgia,” he said. “None of those have anything to do with this case or this incident or this perpetrator so please, those that are sharing this information are inflaming the anxiety and fear of people.”
Bouchard said anyone that makes a threat — even as a joke — will be prosecuted.
“Because you think it’s funny or you want to get out of school, it will be fully investigated by me or all of our partners depending on where it happens,” he said. “And we will hand the baton to our prosecutor and I’m confident they will be held accountable.”
FBI Special Agent Tim Waters said law enforcement is wading through a lot of bad information. Of the 25 they’re investigating, 13 have been fully “mitigated.”
Waters said false threats mean law enforcement has less time to find real ones.
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said Thursday schools in the area are being cautious.
“Those kinds of warnings escalated to a point where they said we’re just going to err on the side of caution. It doesn’t mean that these are credible threats but they have to assume that everything is credible.”
That’s led to worries over the possibility of a copycat attack.
“We know that after these kinds of events copycat type behavior happens there’s an increased amount of threats that look like that and it’s become an oddly normal part of these events,” Coulter said.
Bouchard said he expects most schools will be reopened by Monday.