UPDATE: Police say Snapchat threat was from out of state, not related to ASD

Cropped Photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang / CC BY 2.0
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Updated 3:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19:
Anchorage Police say the Snapchat threat that circulated through Anchorage School District students' social media feeds over the weekend originated out of state and was not related to the Anchorage School District.

Police said the post was shared multiple times without context and was misinterpreted as a threat against the Anchorage School District.

Anchorage School Resource Officers investigated the threat adn discovered its out-of-state origin.

Original Story:
Anchorage parents, students, and schools were concerned over a threatening message from an apparent gun-wielding suspect warning students not to go to school on Monday.

The image, made on photo-sharing app Snapchat, was spread widely on other social media platforms and police are now involved.

In the snap, a still-unidentified suspect holds what appear to be two black handguns, with a message saying "dont (sic) come to school on monday (sic)."

The identity of the person holding the guns, and whether or not the threat is being deemed credible, is not yet known.

In a message sent by the Anchorage School District, officials said they were aware of the Snapchat post and stated that the Anchorage Police Department is actively investigating the threat.

"You may be aware that a Snapchat post has been circulating in the city threatening the safety of an unspecified school," ASD wrote in the statement sent to parents Monday. "APD is actively investigating and continuing to work closely with the District. We will continue to do everything we can to insure the safety of students and will keep you updated when more information becomes available."

According to police, the threat shared on Snapchat is being taken very seriously and the safety of Anchorage students is the first priority. However, APD said they could not release details of the threats due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.

"When there is a posed or perceived threat that involves our children, anxieties are understandably heightened," APD spokesperson MJ Thim said via email. "We want to assure the community that we continue to thoroughly investigate each incident in cooperation with the Anchorage School District and will ensure that those responsible are held accountable."

ASD also sent out a message to parents via text containing similar information and instructing parents to check their email. This after a series of school shooting threats threw several Anchorage schools into turmoil over the past two weeks, beginning and ending with Dimond High School.

In those threats, similar sentiments of impending school shootings as the Snapchat message were found as bathroom wall graffiti. Those threats were also found at Service High School and Bartlett High School, prompting some parents to take their children home early from school.

Monday's threat is essentially different from the graffiti threats in several key ways. Firstly, it is the first threat to directly connect a face, and proof of what appear to be firearms, to a written threat.

Additionally, this threat was made at-large via social media, and according to ASD, did not specifically target any particular school.

In the case of the threats made in bathroom stalls during the month of November, officials took precautions which at once alarmed parents and helped ensure another layer of safety for students.

Things like reduced bathroom passes, extended first period, and backpack sweeps, were carried out in affected schools. However, with the Snapchat threat not targeting any one specific school, it's uncertain if school administration will again implement these rules.

For law enforcement, according to Thim, school resource officers normally in schools "continue to lead the investigation with support from our Patrol Division." That division, Thim said, provided additional support this morning throughout the Anchorage School District.

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