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Overreaction? DC Student Arrested After Posting “Emoji” School Threat on Instagram

Hands up don't shoot. No . . . wait, let me figure this out.

A 16-year-old freshman at Eastern Senior High School in Northeast Washington was arrested after he allegedly posted a threat against the school and students. Police said they arrested the ninth-grade student after he posted a photo on Instagram with the caption “school shooter” and two gun emoji.

The Metropolitan Police Department said the teenager would be charged as a juvenile after they found guns at his residence. Police officers say they were alerted by the school administration and after searching his home, found firearms, but they do not believe he planned to attack the school.

While the police has said that there were several social media posts by the student, they did not disclose their contents.

District of Columbia Public Schools issued the following statement on the incident.

“The safety of our students and staff is our number one priority. Following security and emergency protocols, DCPS immediately notified the Metropolitan Police Department. This threat was taken very seriously, was quickly resolved with minimal disruption, and is being treated as an isolated incident. We continue to work with proper authorities in monitoring these types of social media postings, and we will remain vigilant in maintaining student and staff safety.”

Principal of Eastern High School, Sah Brow, sent a letter to students and their families on Monday:

“Dear Eastern High School Community,

At Eastern, we highly value and are committed to fostering a learning environment where students feel safe and secure. We are also committed to maintaining transparency with our school community concerning security issues.

This morning, the administration was made aware of a possible threat through social media which referenced our school.

Following security and emergency protocols, we immediately notified Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), School Security, and School Operations. While this threat is concerning and was taken very seriously, it was quickly resolved with minimal disruption and is being treated as an isolated incident. Please know, all students and staff remained safe throughout this process. We continue to work with proper authorities, in monitoring these types social media postings, and we will remain vigilant in maintaining our students and staff safety.

Parents/Guardians, I encourage you to partner with me and discuss the importance of the safe and responsible use of social media with your children. We also encourage students that if they see any material online perceived to be threatening or unsafe, they should immediately report their concerns to a trusted adult, for example, a teacher, counselor, principal, or school resource officer. In this way, we are all working together to keep our school community safe.

I feel very fortunate to have a well-trained and aware staff that handled this situation quickly and appropriately. I also want to thank our MPD, School Security and School Operations partners for their quick response in ensuring the safety of our school community.

Your child’s safety remains my top priority. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. Thank you again for your cooperation and support.”

Some parents, however, were not satisfied with the way the situation was handled and said they should have been alerted earlier in the day when the threat was discovered.


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