Two teens identified as suspects in social media post about shooting

GREENFIELD — Local police said they believe a group of students is responsible for a threat posted to social media over the weekend, leading administrators to increase security at Greenfield-Central High School on Monday morning.

Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche said his detectives have identified two teenage suspects they believe were involved in creating a post stating a classmate would “shoot up” the high school Monday.

But officers think those students — a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old — didn’t act alone, and they’re working to determine to what extent other students might have been involved, Rasche said.

Meanwhile, a note from the high school principal stating students were safe to attend school Monday was Photoshopped by a prankster who tried to spread the word everyone should stay home. That prompted a second notice from administrators Sunday, assuring parents the building was safe.

To ease any lingering fears, nearly a dozen officers were stationed at the high school Monday.

The investigation began Sunday morning after parents and students spotted a post on Instagram alleging a Greenfield-Central High School student was planning a shooting at the school. Dozens sent notes to district administrators, alerting them to the threatening nature of the post, said Superintendent Harold Olin.

The post named a specific student as the would-be shooter but came from an account with a name school officials didn’t recognize, Olin said.

Investigators met with the student named in the post and quickly determined he was not the one responsible for putting the threat online, Rasche said.

The investigation continued throughout the day Sunday, and police and school administrators determined it would be safe hold classes as usual Monday.

High school principal Jason Cary sent an email out to parents Sunday afternoon, assuring them the issue was being taken seriously and promising the building would be staffed by police Monday.

Someone Photoshopped part of that email to make it look as though Cary was urging students to stay home Monday and circulated the hoax online, adding a layer of confusion to an already messy situation, Olin said.

Additional messages and alerts were sent out Sunday night, again telling families that there was no need to keep students out of school, Olin said.

Greenfield Police Department officers and Hancock County Sheriff’s deputies patrolled the halls and parking lot Monday. Greenfield detectives also were on hand, questioning students they thought might know more about where the threats originated.

Olin hopes their presence served as a sign to parents, students and teachers that the district takes safety seriously and intends to prosecute those responsible, he said.

By press time Monday, officers still weren’t certain who made the Instagram post, Rasche said. The two students they identified as suspects admitted some involvement, but they hadn’t revealed any motive for why the posts were made, he said.

Investigators have confiscated cellphones and other electronics, hoping to learn more about others involved, he said. They’ve also reached out to Instagram and federal investigators to help determine how the post originated.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.