Online threat at Southington school determined not credible

reporter photo

SOUTHINGTON — Police and education officials found no credible threat in an online message warning JFK Middle School students not to attend school.

A TikTok message threatening other students contained the image of an airsoft pellet gun, according to school district leaders. The message was sent before Thanksgiving although middle school school officials didn’t know about it until students reported it Thursday.

Steven Madancy, school superintendent, said the incident did not warrant a lockdown under the district’s safety protocols.

“The administration began an immediate investigation and jointly delved into the matter with the Southington Police Department,” Madancy said. “After a thorough investigation, the Southington Police Department and the school administration determined there was no viable threat.”

Police Lt. Keith Egan said the school would handle discipline of the student involved. The school’s resource officer was notified of the threat.

In the TikTok post, a student was shown holding the airsoft gun with the caption “Don’t come to school tomorrow.”

“School officials were able to identify the student(s) involved and quickly determined they were joking and apologized for their behavior,” Egan wrote in a release Friday.

Egan also reminded students that such messages were taken seriously and can lead to serious consequences.

“Whether parents are monitoring their child’s social media use, or not, it is imperative to talk to your children and make sure they understand the importance of sharing this information with you and reporting these types of things immediately to the Southington Police Department,” Madancy wrote in a Friday message to school district families. “Do not to wait to report to school administrators. Especially when these posts originate on evenings or weekends.”

Parents debated the school’s response in the Facebook group Southington Talks, with some defending the school district’s actions and others questioning why more security measures weren’t triggered.

Madancy said the district “reacted swiftly and accordingly in alignment with our protocols and procedures.” District officials and police “immediately determined the threat was neither viable nor credible.”

Madancy said the rumor mill can spread angst among families. He sent the message to correct misinformation.

“Considering recent events of school violence both locally and nationally, events such as what occurred yesterday can trigger anxious feelings in the community but may also be blown out of proportion when emotions run high,” he wrote.

Michigan police charged a 15-year old with killing four in a school shooting Tuesday. The attack prompted the closure of other schools in Michigan due to copycat threats.

Two Meriden students were arrested at Platt High School on Tuesday after the students posted a video online showing one of them brandishing what turned out to be a prop gun on school grounds.

A 15 and 16 year old male were taken into custody and charged with breach of peace. Their names were not released.

Platt was placed on lockdown after school officials heard from students about the online message.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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