Social media rumors cause nearly 200 students to miss a day of school

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BONNERS FERRY — Rumors on social media can spread like wildfire, and cause catastrophic results in a short period of time.

A situation regarding rumors of a student at Bonners Ferry High School in possession of a ‘hit list” came to the attention of the school administration last Thursday. Although they took immediate action, rumors exploded on social media on Sunday.

“The BFPD School Resource Officer was present and immediately launched an investigation,” said Marty Ryan, Bonners Ferry Police Department assistant chief. “As well, additional law enforcement from both the City PD and the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office blanketed the area as a precautionary measure.”

According to a press release from the Bonners Ferry Police Department, those rumors turned out to be false, but the damage was done. The misinformation spread quickly through social media, causing a scare in the community.

“Social media turns rumors into lies in a matter of seconds,” said Boundary County School District Superintendent Gary Pflueger.

Despite efforts made by the school district, Bonners Ferry Police Department, and Boundary County Sheriff’s Office to assure parents and students that the school was safe, nearly 200 students stayed home from school on Monday, March 18.

“I will never question a parent’s concern for the safety of their kids,” said Pflueger. “I’m concerned for 1,400 kids.”

Pflueger hopes that if a student comes home from school with concerning information or rumors, instead of getting on social media, parents would contact the school administration or the School Resource Officer.

“It is unfortunate that we lost a school day of education due to rumors and lies,” said Pflueger.

According to Ryan, the student, a freshman, was identified early on, interviewed by law enforcement in cooperation with not only school officials, but the boy’s parents as well, and it was quickly clear that the “threat” was in word only.

“The boy’s parents were fully cooperative and completely involved,” Ryan said. “The young man, once confronted, was open and honest and confirmed he had just made a statement that, in retrospect, was pretty dumb.”

According to a press release, the boy informed law enforcement that there were no accomplices and they confirmed that a hit list, or anything similar, never existed. The boy has been suspended and is reportedly going through in-depth counseling with professionals using national standards established for this type of situation.

“He will be out of class until that counseling is complete,” said Ryan.

According to the press release, although the incident has taken on a malevolent life of its own, Ryan and all law enforcement officers are grateful that the threat was reported and they encourage anyone who becomes aware of such a threat to immediately report it.

“We take each report seriously and we will respond and take action as deemed appropriate in each case,” Ryan said. “No one wants harm to come to our students and we will do all in our power to prevent it.”

To report such a threat, contact the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office, 208-267-3151, extension 0.

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