SCSO cautions parents about children’s social media use after Snapchat threat

SCSO cautions parents about children’s social media use after Snapchat threat
Spokane County Sheriff's Office

On Thursday, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office posted this release on their Facebook page:

“On April 11, 2018, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Spokane Valley Deputy Veronica Van Patten began to investigate a threat of school shooting made on social media.

Deputy Van Patten learned the original Snapchat threat was sent by the suspect to another middle school student. The concerned student replayed the message for the alarmed youth group leader who reported it to the youth group’s adult leader.

Due to the Snapchat platform settings, the message automatically deleted within seconds after it was viewed but there was an option to ‘replay’ the message one time. The witnesses explained the message stated, “There’s going to be a school shooting tomorrow. Tell your Mama. Psych.” and was sent with a picture of a rifle-style firearm.

Deputy Van Patten contacted the suspect who was accompanied by his legal guardian. The suspect stated he knew why Deputy Van Patten was there and was cooperative during the interview.

He explained he sent a Snapchat to five friends stating “There is going to be a school shooting tomorrow. Psych.”, along with a picture of his neighbor’s BB gun rifle.

He said he meant it as a ‘joke’ but two of his friends replied to the message saying it was messed up and the cops are coming. He said he apologized to both friends and realized afterward he had made a bad decision.

The juvenile was arrested and transported to the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Facility where he was charged with Threats to Bomb or Injure Property, a felony.

Sheriff Knezovich stated, “Spokane County will have a zero-tolerance policy for making threats toward shooting up a school or classmates and if you make such threats, we will arrest you.”

Central Valley School District Officials and the Spokane Valley Resource Deputy were advised of this information and investigation.

We ask parents of school aged students to talk with their children about social media and know what applications they are using. Some of these apps, such as Snapchat, make it nearly impossible to monitor activities as they delete posts/messages automatically.

Other apps are designed to look harmless but enable pictures/screenshots to be hidden or locked from view without secretly entering a password.

It is up to each parent how they raise their children, which includes the use of social media. Please be aware of these apps and technologies specifically designed to be secret. The entire world can be accessed from a smartphone, tablet or computer, all of which have photo and video capabilities.”