Social media post causes security scare

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A social media post from a student at a different Liberty High School in another state caused security concerns here on campus last Wednesday. The threat was deemed non-credible by the end of second period, but the district took it seriously with the Frisco Police Department already aware of a potential threat on campus after students reported their concerns through the STOPit app.

They did the right thing and they reported it, they went to adults, and were able to get the authorities involved quickly,

— principal Ashley Rainwater

“Our students and staff did a wonderful job of continually communicating what they were hearing and letting us know,” principal Ashley Rainwater said. “Although it was stressful for many people, it really showed us that students have control of their school and when something was happening on school that made them scared or make them concerned, that they did the right thing and they reported it, they went to adults, and were able to get the authorities involved quickly.”

The Frisco PD also did not take any chance with the threat. Several police officers descended on campus to aid in the investigation.

“Emails go out, and text messages, to all officers that are in the immediate area, myself and all the middle schools that feed into [Liberty],” school resource officer Glen Hubbard said. “Those people would support the school with additional manpower and things like that. And then, we just start working it.

Because the threat was posted over social media, it presents a unique set of challenges for investigators to determine where it came from.

“Researching the photograph, the social media post itself, anybody that is associated with that post, friends, likes, things like that, talk to all those people,” Hubbard said. “And then, go from there, you talk to that one person so then it becomes a web basically, trying to find out the original source of the post.”

Before it was determined that the threat was not directed at the school, some students were picked up by their parents or guardians.

“At the time, I was very relieved that she picked me up,” senior Mara Casey said. “I had no idea what was going to come of the potential threat.”

For parents like Dee Casey, the potential that their child could be in danger was too great a risk to leave them at school.

“I got notice from a friend who works in the district that there was a potential threat of violence at Liberty,” Dee said. “I decided that I didn’t want to take a chance of Mara being in harm’s way. I recognize that as a parent I may have overreacted, but it was better to be safe than sorry.”

An influx of parents during a tense situation helped prepare the front office in the event of a real incident.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for us in the office to look at what do we do when there is an emergency,” principal Ashley Rainwater said. “When parents want to remove their kids from school, how can we do that in a timely manner where people aren’t nervous, they’re not scared. And that that everybody is handled efficiently.”

However, the school and police department faced difficulty determining where the threat originated from. On Snapchat, users can add their own text, graphics, etc. to images before they repost them, which left investigators scrambling to decide what had been added to the threat after it was originally made.

We’re thankful that it wasn’t us and we’re thankful that the police stepped in so quickly and led that investigation for us,”

— principal Ashley Rainwater

“We had administrators going through video trying to see if they could find altercations on video,” Rainwater said. “We were pulling kids trying to research where the original Snapchat picture came from. So it’s a whole lot of investigation.”

By the end of second period, the school had sent an email to parents explaining that the original threat was made by a student at Liberty High School in O’Fallon, MO who was arrested Tuesday night. While the situation was not ideal, Rainwater believes the school reacted in the best way possible.

“Our students and our staff and our teachers did exactly what they’re supposed to do in this situation,” Rainwater said. “So when you look at back at what happened, even though it was very stressful, and kids were scared, and parents were scared, it was a great learning opportunity. We’re thankful that it that it wasn’t us and we’re thankful that the police stepped in so quickly and led that investigation for us.”