Following the school shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, Washington police reported an increase in calls about possible school shootings.
Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes said every call is investigated and police have yet to uncover a serious threat. He said the number of calls is likely a result of increased awareness that usually happens after a major incident.
Police have long asked people to say something if they see something. After the Parkland shooting, officials kept repeating the “see something, say something” mantra.
“We’ve been running down things — no serious threats,” Sitzes said. “People see this posted, or this guy posted that and you run it down. There’s really been no active threat. . . . We haven’t had any substantial threats.”
Sitzes said some of the calls being investigated are similar to an incident that happened last spring. Calls have dealt with old photos and possible threats that aren’t local.
“I’ve been up (to the school) on a couple that appear to be more serious,” he said. “But then, by the time you (investigated), you find out it was posted a year ago. People are saying ‘Well I saw so and so with a gun.’ It’s been posted for a year.”
Last year, in March 2017, Washington High School was placed under “lockout” after a social media threat went viral. The threatening Facebook post drew the attention of both police and the school district. Washington police investigated and determined the threat posted on social media was not made in this city or even the state.
Sitzes said police traced the threat back to a Washington High School in Washington state. Another Washington High School, located in South Bend, Ind., also went on lockdown because of the social media post.
Sitzes said the department’s school resource officers have been in regular contact with the schools about any potential threat.
“Any incident that we’re involved in, we run it through the administration,” he said. “We explain to them what’s going on with anyone that looks serious. We call them back and tell them if there’s nothing there. We’re in touch with them and we know their plans.”
He said police are taking no chances and investigating every call.
“They’re not going to come back and say we didn’t investigate — I don’t care how minute it is,” he said.