WILMINGTON — Wilmington police continue to investigate threats made against Wilmington City Schools via a photo shared on social media Sunday — one which they say posed no local threat.
“We are confident that this photo is a hoax, as many school districts across the nation have received the same photo,” Police Chief Duane Weyand told the News Journal Monday afternoon.
Police had a more visible presence at schools Monday morning.
Weyand told the News Journal Sunday that “the Wilmington Police Department became aware of a picture accompanied by two different messages implying a threat against the safety of Wilmington City Schools.”
He told the News Journal Monday, “Over the last few hours WPD has been working with others over the alleged Snapchat photo that is circulating. We know that the photo has made its way as far as Anchorage, Alaska schools, as we were on the phone with detectives from there today.”
He gave an update late Monday afternoon that WPD will continue to investigate over the next few weeks, including working internally and also with internet experts to discover the source of the photo as well as if it was altered locally.
“I want to thank Wilmington City Schools for acting promptly to assist us in this matter and make themselves available Sunday evening so we could quickly investigate this matter and make the situation as safe as poss for everybody,” Weyand added.
On Monday, WCS Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart released a statement: “On behalf of the WCS district I want to thank the quick and efficient response of our Wilmington Police Department for their investigation. I appreciate how the community was open with making sure we were provided with information.
“We continue to address the decisions of a few of our students to re-post the picture on social that caused undue panic and concern for our community. It is important that we educate our students on the appropriate use of social media as well as reporting safety concerns to adults in authority. WCS is committed to providing safe schools.”
Wilmington City Schools had posted on its website Sunday evening:
“Student safety is our top priority in the Wilmington City School district. For this reason, we are communicating this message tonight to inform you of an event that was investigated this afternoon.
“On Sunday afternoon, a former WCS parent contacted a teacher to let her know that her son received a Snapchat message with a screenshot of a threatening message.
“The district notified the Wilmington PD and the PD determined that the photo was traced outside the Wilmington School district, and at this time we do not have any reason to believe this student is affiliated with our school district or community. The student who originally shared this message did not know the individual in the photo.
“Since safety is our top priority, the district has requested additional police presence on campus tomorrow (Monday).”
If anyone has any additional information on this photo, please contact the Wilmington Police Department.