Threat made at middle school; field trip canceled

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by Kristine Harrington

azfamily.com

Posted on October 24, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 8:00 AM

PHOENIX -- Dozens of middle school students were supposed to be on their way to Disneyland, but instead they're not going anywhere as their Disney dreams were dashed by a threat posted on Instagram.

“I got a phone call from my neighbor this morning saying I think there was a threat of a shooting over at the school,” said Tyonna Mallare. 

Her son attends Mountain Trail Middle School and she was immediately concerned. 

“Just goose bumps, I can't believe this stuff happens," Mallare said.

The threatening message was posted on Instagram and was actually spotted by a parent from another school who was monitoring her own child's social media. That parent immediately alerted officials.
 
“The message had referenced the school or rather the school mascot,” said Jim Lee, Director of Student Services at Paradise Valley Unified School District.  “It said everyone have a great weekend and by the way you're all targets and who should I shoot first?”

Lee says the message specifically threatened the National Junior Honor Society and the 70 kids who were heading out of town today for a leadership retreat at Disneyland.

Phoenix police were immediately called out to campus and the trip was canceled. The kids were told to get off the bus and their parents notified.

“Of course there's always that part of your brain that wonders if it's real or not,” said Dawn Wasserman.  “Better safe than sorry.”

Word of the threat spread quickly across campus. Teachers were directed to set the record straight and discuss it with students.

“They wanted to say the school is safe and that they have everything under control and are investigating,” said 7th grader Alexandra Gibson.

And that message calmed a lot of nerves.

“I think it was probably a joke and they didn't mean any harm by it but obviously there was harm done because the kids don't get to go on the trip,” said 7th grader Baylor Pinkerton.

Phoenix police are investigating, trying to figure out who sent the note and criminal charges could be filed.

The school district applauds the parent who spotted the note and asks all parents to be just as vigilant monitoring social media.

“Kids have a lot of access to the Internet and social websites and we ask parents to monitor those websites, they’re better served for it, the kids are better served for it and the community is better served for it,” said Lee.
 

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