CHEYENNE – The student who made threats of a school shooting at Cheyenne’s South High has been identified and questioned, according to Cheyenne Police Department Public Information Officer Kevin Malatesta.
Wednesday night, the Cheyenne Police Department posted on Facebook about a “vague school shooting threat” at South High that was spread through social media. The threats originated on Snapchat, a social media app where users send photos. On the app, users can post a question for others to anonymously answer, which is where the threat was made.
The suspect is a student at South High who was kept home from school Thursday. School continued as usual, but additional police were stationed out front, and school administrators were available to talk with students, according to South High Principal Phil Thompson.
Although no charges have been filed, Malatesta said charges could be filed in the future. The investigation is ongoing.
On Snapchat, the suspect anonymously replied to a message, saying, “Don’t come to school tomorrow. I’m serious. Anyone who sees this don’t come to school.”
In a separate response to the question, the suspect said, “My dad is an off-duty marine and has been training my shooting skills since I was three years old. You guys all think this is a joke. You’ll pay.”
Malatesta stressed that if anyone encounters such threats in the future, they should immediately go to the police. He said posting the information on social media makes CPD’s job harder.
“It makes it difficult to track down the origin of the source and verify the claim,” Malatesta said.
CPD sent out a news release Thursday that said this situation highlights the importance of reporting threats straight to law enforcement.
In the release, Police Chief Brian Kozak said, “If the department is aware of a specific threat, we will do everything in our power to address that threat and keep the public informed in order to ensure their safety.”
Social media can amplify fear and spread misinformation, according to Malatesta. To avoid both of those effects, South High didn’t reach out to parents until Thursday to ensure they were providing accurate information.
“We don’t want to send out misinformation,” Principal Thompson said. “If there was an unsafe environment, the parents would be the first to know.”
Laramie County School District 1 Superintendent Boyd Brown agreed that if there was ever an “imminent threat,” parents would be notified directly by the school.
Both Thompson and Brown said the school district and police department did an excellent job investigating the threat and making sure the learning environment was safe for students.
Still, Thompson said a number of parents called in to say their kids would not be attending school. He said the main goal was to make sure kids felt safe.
“We’re just making sure everything is normal,” Thompson said.