BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — The Box Elder School District moved class online today for a handful of its schools after multiple threats over the weekend.
Police have suspects for two of the threats and ask those who have any information about a threat written in a bathroom stall at Bear River High School in Garland to come forward with that information.
According to Box Elder School District Superintendent Steve Carlson, it all started Friday afternoon. He told ABC4 that a picture started circulating online. The picture showed an image that was drawn in a boys’ bathroom stall at Bear River High School. The image was a gun and written by it, “12-13-21.”
The superintendent told ABC4 that police worked with the school district and looked through camera footage from the high school to narrow down who may have sketched the threat. Carlsen explained that they decided that on Monday, school would be held as normal with additional police presence on campus.
By Monday morning, however, that all changed.
“These were just empty threats that were trying to get a rise out of everybody,” Carlsen told ABC4 on Monday morning. “Which they did do.” He explained that more than half a dozen schools moved to online classes on Monday after additional threats started circulation on social media over the weekend. He added: “All of these things happen outside of school but because of social media it sucks school into the middle of things and everything it affects.”
Again, the first threat came Friday afternoon. The second and third threats came later in the weekend. The superintendent said the second threat was a picture of a student “and he was holding a gun up to his face — a handgun — and it said something about tomorrow (Monday).” He explained that the third threat also came in form of a photo “that said, ‘I’m going to have a bomb tomorrow at school.’”
Around 3 a.m. Monday, the Tremont-Garland Police Department recommended closing schools in the area. Sgt. Brain Crockett stated: “In today’s world, better safe than sorry.”
Crockett told ABC4 that the department used bomb dogs to secure the schools. He said the department now has two suspects who they believe are responsible for the two latter threats. He added: “There are possible charges pending and the investigation is still very active at this moment.”
According to Carlsen, the second and third threats toward the school are being considered hoaxes. However, he reminded students that these types of pranks can affect their futures. He said it’s just not worth it. Along with that, he asked parents to be more aware of their children’s online activity.
Crockett told ABC4 that the department does not currently have a suspect regarding the first threat. He said those with credible information should contact the police at 435-734-4800.
For one former student, who graduated from the high school in 2020, these threats came as no shock. “I’m not really surprised, you know, this happens all the time,” Roy Jenkins stated. “It’s kind of normal at this point.”
Jenkins told ABC4 that something similar happened a few years ago when he was a freshman in high school. “But they didn’t tell anyone there was a threat, even though everyone knew it was. Right? So, they had everyone put their backpacks in, and then they banned backpacks the next year because of that.”
Superintendent Carlsen said these incidents cause more harm than it may appear at face value. “We’ve harmed learning for a day. Plus, when you shut school down, there are kids missing out on their breakfast and lunch and for a lot of them, that might have been the only two meals they get.”
He explained that many students will not have great access to their online courses, many students will be left at home alone while their parents work, and that for some students who’ve experienced trauma in the past, these “false alarms” can be triggering.
According to the school district, students will return to in-person learning on Tuesday.