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'Copycat' school shooting threats are on the rise, says Oakland County Sheriff

Lorie Shaull

The Oakland County sheriff's office says it's responded to five possible school shooting threats in the span of just five days.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard says it's not unusual to get more "copycat" threats after a school shooting like the recent one in Florida.

"It's sad,” he says. “It's incredibly sad to think that other people want to either emulate it, or get attention from it, or think it's ok."

While they ultimately determined the suspects likely weren’t intending to actually carry out the threats of violence, Bouchard says deputies still took each tip seriously, including searching suspects' homes, cars, and phones. Two suspects were arrested, and another two may face charges.

“Because you can't miss the opportunity to stop one of these things before it starts,” he says. “It sends a message that that is not a joke, and there will be consequences."

After the news that law enforcement in Florida missed red flags about the Parkland school shooter, Bouchard says he’s directed his staff to update their own policies about incoming tips.

"So that at least two sets of eyes see every tip that comes in, to make sure that it doesn't fall through the cracks," he says. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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