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Social media post investigated at Leetonia schools

LEETONIA–A social media post caused alarm shortly after noon Monday. Leetonia police received a call at 12:19 from an unnamed man about an armed adolescent in the bathroom of the Hazel Street Family Dollar.

According to Leetonia Schools Superintendent Dennis Dunham school administration also received similar information from a student from a text circulating at the school about a weapon being inside the building Monday.

According to Police Chief Allen Haueter two calls originated from the same incident. One call occurring at Family Dollar and the other coming from Leetonia Schools.

“In the mean time the school resource officer called and wanted me to come up there,” Haueter explained.

A parent working at the Family Dollar sent a text to a student about the incident occurring at Family Dollar. The student sent the text to other students who interpreted the text as occurring at the school.

Dunham explained students were in no danger and the incident occurred somewhere else. The student had sent out the text telling others she was afraid.

“It was misinformation, falsehood but out of abundance of caution we did a lockdown until we could fully investigate but it was nothing here at the school,” Dunham said.

“It turned out to be a complete hoax. It boiled over into the school,” Haueter said.

He explained that a young man who remains unnamed was rumored to be at the Family Dollar with a gun despite being in class at the time.

“He had no idea anything was going on,” Haueter pointed out.

The student does have a pending court case involving other adolescents according to Haueter.

As soon as school administration were made aware of the information the building was put under a soft lockdown.

“Teachers and students would remain in their classroom. No one would come and go in or out of the building. We wanted to make sure we investigated it fully,” Dunham said.

School administration were given updates in five minute increments. According to Dunham the situation is still emotional when staff and students are unaware of specifics.

“Certainly there’s emotions because you don’t know for sure what’s going on,” Dunham said. “Sometimes five minutes feels like fifty minutes.”

Dunham explained this was a case where social media escalated a situation unnecessarily. As soon as school officials were aware of the situation a district wide text message alerting parents of the situation was distributed.

“We all talk about the do’s and don’ts and the social protocols involving social media but in this case, again; please think how much it impacts others when you hit send,” Dunham noted.

Dunham gives recognition to staff and students for their response.

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