Multiple agencies united today for a press conference in Amarillo discussing the importance of thwarting future attempts of active shooter situations, and specifically, addressing the issue of hoax threats.
Amarillo Police Chief Ed Drain said there were 54 incidents of threats in our area after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida earlier this year. Three have already been made this school year, which just began this week.
“We want the public to realize how important that we take this issue, and the drain that it has on the resources for us,” said Chief Drain.
Chief Drain said all threats are taken seriously and could lead to trouble even if the student does not intend to act on it, Potter County Deputy District Attorney Jason Herring explains. “Unfortunately for the folks that commit these offenses, whether you meant it or not, you will be investigated and prosecuted.”
In past school shootings, investigators have found there might have been warning signs posted on social media beforehand.
“Someone saw a red flag or something that was a warning sign, and for whatever reason, those red flags, signs, were ignored, dismissed or not taken seriously,” said FBI Dallas Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Aaron Tapp.
Chief Drain said threats now could be considered either a terroristic threat or a false alarm or report.
“We have zero tolerance and we’re gonna file charges, and those charges can be a misdemeanor up to a felony,” said Chief Drain.
Herring told us students often do not realize the impact making a false threat could have on their lives.
“There are so many folks in so many walks of life that have a state license based on an impulsive quick flick of the thumbs,” said Herring.
Not only could it deter someone from their career, Herring said a hoax threat could be classified as a Class B Misdemeanor all the way up to a Third-Degree Felony, which would result in 2 to 10 years in prison, and $10,000 in fines.
Chief Drain reminds any student who hears or sees a threat to report it to an adult as soon as possible.