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Schools cancel classes as Oxford shooting spawns copycat threats; more districts cancel classes Friday

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, other county and federal officials warned against making or re-circulating copycat threats in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting.
screengrab/via YouTube
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and other county and federal officials warned against making or re-circulating copycat threats in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting.

Update: Friday, December 3 at 8:00 a.m.

Many of the schools in Oakland County that were closed Thursday are closed again Friday, and dozens of schools across the state also cancelled classes Friday, including:

  • All public schools in Genesee County
  • Ann Arbor Public Schools
  • More than a dozen schools in Wayne County
  • Several schools in smaller districts in West Michigan

Original post: Thursday, December `1 at 9:34 p.m.

The mass shooting that killed four students at Oxford High School on Tuesday has spawned a slew of copycat threats.

More than 60 schools in Oakland County and throughout the state were shut down on Thursday, as investigators tried to chase down the threats.

So far, none of them have been deemed credible. But Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the process of investigating them drains law enforcement time and resources.

“60-plus schools closed across this state—or this community, really—for, everything we’ve seen so far, false threats—is disruptive, it’s scary, and it’s wrong,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard said to the people making false threats: “We’re going to find you. It is ridiculous you’re inflaming the fears and passion of parents, teachers, and the community, in the midst of a real tragedy.”

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the people behind the copycat threats could face charges, including false threat of terrorism. That’s a 20-year felony.

Bouchard urged people not to re-share any threats they may see circulating on social media, saying they should report them to authorities instead.

In Flint, authorities have charged a 17-year-old girl as a juvenile with making a false threat of terrorism and using a computer to commit a crime. The girl allegedly made a video on a school bus in which she issued a threat about her school, and posted it to social media.

“My message to our community has been loud and clear over the years whenever we have had instances of so-called ‘copycat threats’ following a school shooting or other mass shooting incidents around the country, and that message is that it is not a joke, it is a crime and it will be treated as such,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said in a statement.

“I’m not going to try to figure out whether this incident in Flint today was intended to be a joke or whether it was a credible threat, the bottom line is that it’s a crime,” he said. “Michigan law specifically states that it is not a defense if the person did not have the intent or capability of following through on the threat.”

Classes at all public schools throughout Genesee County have been canceled on Friday. Ann Arbor Public Schools has also canceled classes, “in light of reports of potential threats of violence that have been circulating on social media focused on our and other area schools.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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