The reported gun threat at the Hillsdale Area Career Center on Oct. 31 was a false alarm, according to Hillsdale City Police Chief Scott Hephner.
On Oct. 31, a female student at the Career Center, which offers technical skills classes to high school juniors and seniors, called the police after she saw a screenshot on Snapchat of one of her fellow students holding a gun.
“It was not actually a gun threat,” Hephner said. “Someone took a legitimate picture and added one line of text, three or four words, and shared it with somebody.”
Hillsdale Area Career Center Superintendent Troy Reehl said the student who took the photo was in a criminal justice class, in which the day’s lesson was tied to learning about weapons.
The officer in the class displayed unloaded weapons, and one student took a photo of another student holding a gun, which was screenshotted and reposted on social media.
The student who reposted the photo “made a comment about it on social media,” which caused the female student’s concern, Reehl explained.
The police were at the school within 10 minutes, according to Hephner.
“They were at the school very quickly, they handled it very swiftly, and it was very well-executed by our law enforcement,” Reehl said.
He added that the Career Center was pleased with the female student’s response to the photo, because it enabled them to work with law enforcement and address the scenario quickly, which would have been critical if the threat had been real.
“If it was a real threat, knowing how quick law enforcement responded to that situation was really reassuring,” Reehl added.
The school went into lockdown briefly while the police responded to the threat.
“We just had to confirm that everything was OK, that it was not a real issue, and we did,” Hephner said. “The school is dealing with the poor decision one student made. I can’t speak to that.”
He added that “it was more precautionary than anything.”
Hillsdale Area Career Center Principal Jamie Mueller agreed.
“There was, at no time, any viable threat to students in the county or students at the HACC,” Mueller said in an email. “Action was taken immediately by people that received the social media post which allowed law enforcement and the school to act quickly to handle the situation.”