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Sheriff's Office investigating online threats against Rush-Henrietta school district

Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies are stepping up their presence at the Rush-Henrietta Central School District after multiple online threats were made against the middle and high schools.

Paul DeLella, a captain with the Sheriff’s Office, said the threats began the third day of the school year on Sept. 5. The first incident was not deemed to be an actual threat, and that investigation is closed. However, two more remain open.

“Since these investigations began, the Sheriff’s Office has provided additional patrols to the schools and the district,” DeLella said.

On Sunday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office was tipped off to a Snapchat conversation among four juvenile suspects making statements of possible violence. The conversation was placed on a student’s Snapchat story where it was seen by others in the district.

DeLella said police identified the four students, interviewed them, and searched their homes. No credible threat was determined.

That evening, the school district issued a robocall to alert those in the district of the threat and investigation. About two hours later, a student reported a different threat on Snapchat in the form of a selfie and the statement: “Who want (sic) me to be the shooter?”

Police arrived to the student’s house, interviewed them, and searched their home. A gun was found and confiscated.

Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

District Superintendent Bo Wright said schools don’t have the luxury of differentiating in terms of seriousness, and that any act of this nature is and will be treated as a serious threat.

“Unfortunately, I think this is a sign of the times. This is our new reality,” Wright said. “I’m very appreciative to our community because we were notified right away and we were able to act quickly and handle the situation so that everyone was kept safe.”

Wright added that the school district will be using this as a teachable moment for students.

“We need to do more to help students understand how serious it is when you make this sort of threat and the negative impact it can have on the rest of your life,” he said. “It’s a serious matter, and I think that’s lost on students when they decide to make a threat like that.”

Both the selfie and the Snapchat conversation threats are still under investigation.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.