OMAK – Members of the Omak Police Department spent part of Wednesday, Aug. 28, the first day of school, on the Omak School District secondary campus trying to ferret out the source of a potentially threatening photo posted on social media.
The photo was determined to be “a poorly worded joke,” said police Chief Jeff Koplin.
Parents were notified by email and through a post on the district’s Facebook page.
“This morning local law enforcement personnel were on site at both the middle and high school responding to a FBI report of a potentially threatening photo sent between two students off campus via the Snapchat phone app,” said the post. “This photo turned out to be a bad taste joke at a bad time and both the FBI and the Omak Police Department were able to prove that the post was not a credible threat to students at the middle and high school.”
Koplin said his office was notified Wednesday morning by email by the FBI of the phone in which a youngster was wearing a backpack and pointing to a store display of air guns. The message on the photo was “Back to school shopping.”
It appeared the photo was taken in a local sporting goods store, he said.
Police contacted school officials, who identified the student. The student was contacted and “we rapidly figured out it was a poorly worded joke,” Koplin said. “It turned out to be innocuous, but needed to be checked out.”
He said the FBI apparently got wind of the Snapchat message through someone calling a tip hotline.
They were able to boil it down” to the Omak location, he said.
“Students need to be aware that things like this are watched,” he said. “We will look into every single one of them we hear about, promptly.”
Since there was no credible threat, no disruption of either the middle school or the high school and the incident did not happen on school property or during school hours, the district did not issue any disciplinary action, said Superintendent Erik Swanson.
School discipline is meted out on a case-by-case basis, he said.
If there had been a credible threat, the individual would have been taken into federal custody, school officials said.
Both Koplin and the school district urged parents to sit down with students to talk about safety, appropriate social media postings and consequences of students’ actions.