There was no lockdown – but there was an abundance of caution – as Oakdale Police on Tuesday morning worked with Oakdale Joint Unified School District officials to track down a possible threat.
Indications were that a possible school shooting was threatened at Oakdale Junior High School with a time of 9:15 a.m. reported.
OJUSD Superintendent Marc Malone said the investigation determined that the post was created by some students at the high school and was a fake post in hopes that their parents would allow them to stay home from school on Tuesday. He said they weren’t certain how many students were involved in creating the post but it remains under investigation.
Once it was posted, officials said, rumors started to fly about the possible source of the threat and the school district joined forces with the police department.
The district also issued an ‘all call’ about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday to alert parents to the possible threat being circulated on social media, indicating there would be additional police presence on campuses.
“We have to vet everything as if it’s serious,” Malone explained.
He said the incident did create “major disruption” in the district and at school sites.
“Additional police officers were deployed to the junior high school this (Tuesday) morning, along with stepped up patrols at all school locations,” said Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller. “We continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident.”
Malone said that an estimated 100 students stayed home from junior high classes after the threat report started making the rounds on social media; the superintendent said he first saw the post about 9 p.m. Monday.
“The whole premise of creating (the post) was to stay home,” Malone said, noting that the post was sent to a parent but the parent never contacted the district to confirm. “They didn’t vet the post, they just put it on social media. As a result of that it went viral.”
He said officials did explain the situation to those students at the junior high and, with the assistance from the police department, were able to confirm the threat was false. A second ‘all call’ went out shortly before 11 a.m., indicating the situation had been declared a false threat.
Malone said there are issues that can be contained at a single school site, but “when it comes to social media we have to involve all schools.”
He also said that everyone needs to be aware of the power of social media.
“My hope in this would be that adults show some common sense when it comes to postings that have not been vetted. At least call the police, at least call the district because had that been done, this could have been vetted and probably saved a lot of unnecessary concern,” Malone pointed out. “We can never assume that the event of a shooting, that it cannot happen in Oakdale. Usually we’re able to validate if it’s a credible threat or not.”
In a little over 12 hours, officials were able to determine the threat was not credible.
Chief Heller said the police department continued to provide extra officers in the area during after school activities on Tuesday, “out of an abundance of caution,” while they simultaneously continued the investigative efforts.
Leader reporter Teresa Hammond contributed to this story.