An online threat that sent officers to two Fresno high schools Friday morning remains under investigation, but police have determined that the image used in the menacing online message originated in 2013 on a website where firearms are sold.
A similar threat was made at schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to police Lt. Mark Hudson, and detectives are still attempting to find the originator of the warning, and whether the person is in the Fresno area.
Fresno Unified announced Friday morning that police determined the threat of shootings at Sunnyside and Edison high schools that began circulating Thursday night lacked credibility, but the investigation is continuing. The social media post showed a picture of a gun and warned students not to attend class on Friday. The picture shows what appears to be an assault rifle on carpet, along with the words, “Edison and SSH don’t come to school.”
The post, made a day after 17 people were killed and many others were injured in a school shooting in Florida, agitated many in the community.
Hudson said the photo of the weapon in the warning that appeared on the social media site Snapchat was taken from an ad posted on Armslist by someone in North Carolina.
Hudson said MAGEC gang detectives are investigating the message and that whoever sent it could be booked on charges of making criminal threats, a felony, if apprehended.
“Even if it’s a prank, we’re going to make an arrest,” Hudson said. “We’re still investigating where it started.”
After the original threat appeared, Hudson said it was put out again on Facebook, and detectives have spoken to several people who recirculated it.
Fresno Unified alerted parents with an automated phone message Thursday night about the threat, saying classes would be held at the schools but there would be an increased police presence – which was visible Friday morning at both campuses.
About 850 students were marked absent at Edison High on Friday, and about 900 at Sunnyside High – a loss of more than 30 percent of the schools’ usual enrollment.
In a statement Friday morning on Twitter, Fresno Unified said: “The Fresno Police Department has determined the social media post was a re-post similar to those being received around the country. The threat does not appear to be credible. However, as a precaution we will still have additional police presence at and near our schools.”