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Rumors, Exaggerations Keep Police Busy
Posted on: 12/19/2012
By  Mike Cullums
Kylie Smith contributed to this report.
 
As if the school shootings in Newtown Connecticut last Friday were not bad enough - and they certainly were - but now, in communities large and small, and right here in the Mid Ohio Valley, rumors, false reports and exaggerations are being turned into school evacuations, lockdowns and searches, largely thanks to the high-tech rumor mills known as social media.
 
On Monday, rumors were circulating on Facebook and other social media, as well as among Parkersburg South High School students, that a student was supposedly bringing weapons to school. Parkersburg Police responded and spoke directly with the student, and it was determined that the rumors were unfounded.
 
Sergeant Greg Collins tells WMOA News that Parkersburg officers and Wood County sheriff’s deputies followed up with a home visit to the student’s house on Monday evening, where it was again determined that no threats had been made.
 
On Tuesday morning, a lockdown occurred for about an hour at Belpre High School, following a vague association with the South High School rumors.
 
Sergeant Collins says the unfounded rumors are costing police much in manpower, as they must take every accusation of a threat to a school seriously. 
 
Besides Wood and Washington counties, schools in Pleasants and Athens counties have been plagued this week by a combination of bomb threats, gun-related rumors and wild speculation - nearly all of it via social media. Similar incidents have been reported in other communities across Ohio and West Virginia.
 
In some cases, the online statements turn out to be innocently worded comments over which other students and even parents have become hysterical.
 
A s far as we can tell, only one threat in the region has been confirmed as valid. West Virginia State Police say they arrested a 16-year-old girl for making a bomb threat at Wirt County High School in Elizabeth.  

 
 
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