False alarm: Westlake High School goes into shelter-in-place protocol after Snapchat post

Local News

SARATOGA SPRINGS (ABC4 News) – Students and teachers at Westlake High School had to shelter in place for an hour Monday morning after a reported threat on social media.

While the threat turned out to be a hoax, the response and the potential punishment are very real.

It was a Snapchat post that raised a red flag for one Westlake student, according to City of Saratoga Springs spokesman David Johnson.

“A young man saw something on social media that he saw as a threat to the school,” Johnson told ABC4 News.

That student told his mother. After she called Saratoga Springs police, they parked a truck right in front of the main entrance while students and staff who had arrived at 7:45 a.m. locked themselves in their classrooms.

“Our police department was able to put an officer at each entry location at the school along with school faculty while a preliminary investigation was going on,” Johnson said. “They were able to determine the report was false.”

If police are able to determine that the post was a threat, the person who created it could find themselves in handcuffs. In March, 18-year-old Trey Wheeler was arrested after telling his therapist about his plans to shoot people at Skyridge High School in Lehi. Then in May, an unnamed 15-year-old student at Lakeridge Junior High in Orem was arrested after posting a photo of a gun with the words “don’t come to school tomorrow.”

In Utah, making a terrorist threat is a 2nd-degree felony punishable by 1 to 15 years in prison. While it’s rarely prosecuted to that extent, today’s response shows that police treat everyone as if it’s real.

“Any report that we receive about a potential threat to a school or anywhere we want to take seriously and look into it immediately,” Johnson said.

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