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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 5:58 am | Fair 43º


Sheriff Says No Credible Threat to San Marcos High School After ‘Unusual’ Online Posts

Deputies talk to student responsible for posts, determine there was no intent for violence and the concerns are the result of a 'misunderstanding'

Authorities said Tuesday that a perceived threat directed at San Marcos High School was a misunderstanding after a student posted some “creepy” videos and entries on Instagram the night before.

The posts had been widely shared by Tuesday morning, causing some parents to pull their students out of school.

Classes were in session, however, and authorities quickly announced that there was “no credible threat” from the posts. That didn’t stop fear and rumors from circulating for hours around the campus at 4750 Hollister Ave.

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies were on campus investigating, and they located the San Marcos High student responsible for the posts around 9:30 a.m.

“After speaking with the student who is responsible for the posts on Instagram, it was determined that no crime had been committed and it was a misunderstanding,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said Tuesday afternoon.

The boy was trying to be “creative,” she said, and authorities think he didn’t have malicious intent to cause panic or commit violence.

Hoover said the student’s name and age are not being released since he is a juvenile and isn’t being charged with any crime.

The boy posted a series of videos on Instagram on Monday night with visuals of students walking on campus and “some dark music mixed with editing effects that made it come across a little creepy,” Hoover said.

The student also posted a photo of a dove with “RIP” on it, and the combination was concerning to a lot of people, Hoover noted.

“It was his attempt at being creative and to some degree just poor judgment,” she said.

“Social media is very powerful, and once you post something, you can’t take it back. You really have to be mindful of what you’re posting and the realization it can be shared — and to make sure it’s not something that can be misconstrued, especially in this day and age when we’re seeing so many school shootings and everyone’s on edge.”

The posts had been taken down as of Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” Hoover said. “Even the hint that there could be a school shooting at one of our schools can create panic.

“The student was being creative and not truly realizing the impact of what he was posting, and it snowballed very quickly into being a frightening situation for parents, students, faculty and anyone who heard about it.”

School was in session Tuesday and had normal enrollment when class started, but parents were coming by the attendance office to pick up their children, said Barbara Keyani, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

“Some parents are concerned and checking their students out, even though we are informing them there’s no credible threat,” she said. “They’re anxious about this.”

News of the Instagram posts spread through social media Monday night and early Tuesday. The school district issued an all-schools message about the incident at 8:25 a.m., and a recorded phone call message was delivered to San Marcos High families between 8:30 and 9 a.m., after school started.

“Students shared the video and warned their friends to not go to school,”​ reported The King’s Page, the San Marcos High School news organization.

Videos were posted shortly after midnight Tuesday and ​ASB President Chris Anderson told school administrators early Tuesday morning, reported The King’s Page.

At 9:35 a.m., the Sheriff’s Department reported that deputies had located the student responsible for the posts and were investigating, with no perceived threat of violence to the school.

“The Sheriff’s Office wants to take this opportunity to commend those individuals who promptly reported the suspicious posts which helped lead to a quick resolution,”​ the department said in a statement. Having a school resource deputy on campus who knows the students is “extremely beneficial during an incident,” it said.

Students have midterm exams this week, some parents told Noozhawk.

“The safety of our students and staff is the No. 1 priority of our schools, and we will continue to remain vigilant,” the school district said in a statement. 

“We remain in close contact with law enforcement,” San Marcos High officials posted on the school’s Facebook page.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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