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San Marcos Unified probes shooting threat

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos Unified officials and the San Diego County Sheriff’s department recently investigated a social media threat of a school shooting inspired by the deadly incident in Parkland, Florida.

Sheriffs boosted their presence at San Marcos High after receiving multiple reports the evening of Feb. 19 from parents and students about a generic Snapchat post that said “possible shooting at SMHS tomorrow, please be careful.”

“As we move forward from last night’s investigation of a possible threat against San Marcos High School, I want to assure you that San Marcos Unified School District places the safety of our students and staff as our highest priority,” Superintendent Melissa Hunt said in a statement. “It is because of our current climate that we take possible threats so seriously.”

According to the statement by the district, detectives determined this incident was related to a case from South Carolina that occurred after the Florida shooting last week. In that case, a teen was arrested for posting a now viral photograph of himself holding a gun with a caption that read “Round 2 of Florida tomorrow.” The viral picture of the South Carolina teen was reposted by local students, and the fear of a local school shooting was spread via social media.

Despite the threat being deemed a hoax, many parents kept their students out of school earlier this week. The school reported attendance on Tuesday at 60 percent of the total enrollment.

Hunt sought to assure parents that the school is prepared for emergency situations.

“This event, along with the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida, is another unfortunate reminder that we must be ever vigilant about school safety and always be prepared to respond,” Hunt wrote in a statement. “We address safety from both prevention and response strategies, with a high priority on effective communication during an emergency. Over the last many years, we have worked closely with local law enforcement, fire and other city and county safety personnel to learn and train in the best practices related to school security.

“The best prevention strategies involve the awareness and alertness of students, staff members and parents,” Hunt continued. “We encourage students and community members to notify the school, district office or the Sheriff’s Department if you see or hear of a student or other individual who may have the intent or potential to harm themselves or others. Students and parents can help by being our eyes and ears on campus and in social media. The school district and law enforcement are thankful so many students and parents came forward so quickly yesterday. Together, district staff and law enforcement were able to respond and investigate what, thankfully, turned out to be a non-credible threat.”

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