Threats caused mass school closures in metro Detroit Thursday
Violent threats have closed down more than two dozen schools across metro Detroit Thursday.
Those include two entire school districts: Oak Park Public Schools in Oakland County, and Fitzgerald Public Schools in Macomb County. Oak Park schools will be closed again Friday due to social media threats against multiple schools.
“On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, we were open with heightened security and on high alert," Oak Park Superintendent Daveda Colbert said in a statement. “All went well, but there was extreme anxiety due to the unsettling posts.”
Colbert said so far the threats are anonymous, and “Oak Park Public Safety is working with other departments and divisions to fully investigate the threats against any and all Oak Park schools.”
Social media threats also closed two schools in Oakland County’s Farmington Public Schools district.
“Farmington Community School and Farmington Central High School were closed today due to a threatening message being posted on social media after the school day ended yesterday,” the district posted on Facebook Thursday morning.
“As of this time, the Farmington Hills Police Department has advised us that they have made significant progress in their investigation. Because this situation remains an active investigation, additional details regarding the incident cannot be released at this time. We work lock-step with law enforcement and are confident in their approach to this situation.”
John R. King Academy in Detroit was also on lockdown this morning after two suspicious packages were found.
That followed a reported Instagram threat Wednesday. A Detroit Police bomb squad swept the area, and has now given the school the all-clear.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that his department is aware of 40 threats against different Detroit schools since last month's school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“Now just in the past 24 hours, we have received 23 threats. 23. So it’s going to end," Craig said.
Craig said all the threats appear to be pranks, but police follow up and investigate each one. “But we don’t follow up just for the sake of following up," he said. "We follow up to make arrests.” He said Detroit Police have arrested three juveniles and one adult for school-related threats so far, though he declined to release details.
Craig called the school threats acts of "social terrorism," but warned that students and parents should not take counter-measures too far.
“Our team has learned that there are students that are bringing weapons to school," Craig said. "Some are encouraged by their parents. That must stop.”
Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti gave an overview of the district's situation on Twitter early this morning:
DPSCD parents and families please actively review the social media use of children. Recent threats are teenage pranks.— Nikolai Vitti (@Dr_Vitti) March 22, 2018
The FBI and police are actively investigating the threats. Unfortunately, students will be prosecuted.— Nikolai Vitti (@Dr_Vitti) March 22, 2018
DPSCD has added security presence to schools where threats have been made. The threats have caused undue but justified fear.— Nikolai Vitti (@Dr_Vitti) March 22, 2018
DPSCD will continue to share with parents, teachers, and students where threats have been made.— Nikolai Vitti (@Dr_Vitti) March 22, 2018
There has not been a confirmed case where the recent social media threats are credible but we are investigating all of them.— Nikolai Vitti (@Dr_Vitti) March 22, 2018