TikTok threats: Mason receives more than 170 tips about threats against high school
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Extra law enforcement is at most schools in the Tri-State Friday in light of alleged social media threats of violence on TikTok videos nationwide.
The videos suggest students make bombs or threaten shootings at schools across the country on Friday, several schools claim.
They allegedly make no reference to a specific school or state, according to the Cincinnati Police Department.
Mason City Schools received “more than 170 tips that included screenshots of social media posts purporting to threaten Mason High School,” the district wrote on Facebook Friday morning.
“We are so grateful for this community who takes safety seriously, and steps up and reports anything that could hurt our students and staff,” the post reads.
“Our law enforcement partners are aware of the images that are circulating and determined these posts were not a credible threat. We have additional law enforcement presence at all our schools and are glad to report that all is well. Happy last day before Winter Break!”
Law enforcement veterans like Warren County Prosecutor Dave Fornshell and Blue Ash Police Chief Scott Noel are among many making it clear such behavior will not be tolerated.
In fact, Fornshell wrote on Facebook Thursday night “We are already in the process of having multiple Warren County students arrested for threatening statements and I would certainly prefer to not see that number increase.”
He urged parents to “please talk to your kids ASAP about the very serious issue of school threats. It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine at the time these statements are made whether they are simply bad “jokes” or instead credible threats.
“So when it comes to the safety of our children, our Office is always going to treat them as the latter.”
“We have nothing specifically linking this to one of our schools and no arrests have been made,” said a spokesperson for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
A spokeswoman for Mason schools responded “No” when we asked if the arrests were related to Mason.
Jennifer Heft, Mason’s assistant city manager said “There have been no arrests or citations. As you are probably aware this was a nationwide threat. Mason simply took precautions like many other jurisdictions.”
FOX19 NOW reached out to Fornshell for comment Thursday night and again Friday morning.
He declined to identify the school district (s) related to his post about students being arrested.
“I don’t run Mason schools’ social media page, so I’m not sure what they are specifically referring to. Law enforcement has active investigations going on in our county relating to threats that have been made.
“Unfortunately, in this day and age, we get school threat cases substantially more regularly than we ever did six or seven years ago. After extensive investigation, most of them are determined to not be credible threats. However, a subsequent determination that something was not a credible/feasible threat does not mean that the threat itself was not a criminal act.
“The determination that something is not a credible/feasible threat certainly affects law enforcement’s and the school district’s response going forward, and therefore mitigate measures that might have to be taken to protect the schools, teachers, and students. But a lot of effort goes into investigating and making that determination. And in the meantime, it can cause significant alarm to parents, students, the district, and the public at large, thereby potentially constituting a criminal offense.
“And we will always spend that time and effort investigating it to make that determination and not assume out of hand that all of these are not credible threats. Our kids are too important to do that.”
Cincinnati Public Schools and more than a dozen other Tri-State school districts sent messages to parents Thursday about the alleged threats being made nationwide.
CPS officials say while this is just a “rumor,” there might be increased security at schools Friday.
The school district added this message in its letter to parents/guardians:
“Should the TikTok challenge directly impact any of our CPS schools, we will take that threat seriously and work with the CPD to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff. Parents, guardians, and caregivers would be notified of any concerns and impact to school immediately.”
The Monroe Police Department issued a statement on an investigation into a threat naming “MHS” as a target.
The investigators found that the initials referenced a school in another area of Ohio, not Monroe High School, they said.
Nevertheless, it’s the first and only confirmation that an Ohio school has been implicated in the threat challenge.
In an email message, Mariemont City School officials say their parents/guardians should know no threat has been made against its schools or students.
“Our partners at the Fairfax, Mariemont and Terrace Park police departments are also aware of the situation and will continue to monitor and keep us updated on any new information.”
The message went on to encourage parents to talk to their children about letting adults know about anything they see that might threaten someone’s safety or seems suspicious.
Other schools in the Tri-State have posted similar messages, including the Blanchester district in Clinton County.
That’s where a loaded handgun was found in the locker of a 16-year-old “special needs” student at Blanchester High School on Thursday morning, Blanchester police said.
Several rounds of ammunition were in the gun, but none were “chambered,” which means the gun was not prepared to be immediately fired, according to Police Chief Scott Reinbolt.
The firearm was seized and an investigation is underway.
Police have not said if this is linked to the TikTok threats.
The student was removed from the school grounds by police but was not taken into custody, according to the chief.
The student will face school disciplinary action, Superintendent Randy Dunlap said.
Once the investigation is completed, the case will be presented to Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew McCoy.
The alleged threat from the TikTok videos is the latest in the wake of the deadly Nov. 30 Michigan school shooting.
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