A female juvenile student at Rose Bud High School has been detained in connection with social media threats she allegedly made using a device issued by the school district that caused on-site classes to be canceled Monday and Tuesday, according to Rose Bud officials.
“It was the same student, the same person, that made both threats,” Rose Bud Superintendent Allen Blackwell said Wednesday. “We originally had a threat Monday morning that came through a fake Facebook account. After we had the police up here and we swept both buildings, we kind of put out that everything was fine. We had an additional threat that came through on Snapchat, same person’s name, everything. Of course, that was all fake.
“It’s just been a different type of last couple of days.”
According to Blackwell, the threats were routed back to the IP (internet protocol) addresses and they were both the same “at that person’s house.” He said authorities were able to determine who it was and took her into custody Tuesday night.
He said that the district Tuesday morning had “an admin meeting and started looking through the possibilities of students.”
“Because of our system, we can go in and determine who was on at 2:30 Monday morning if they used one of our school devices, which they did,” Blackwell said. “We could tell which kids were online. We have like 600 or 700 computers out there; of those, 20 happened to be online, so we were able to narrow it down to out of those 20 who were our possibilities, and that is kind of how we narrowed it down to that particular person.
“Facebook came through and we were able to narrow down the IP address, which generally those companies are not very forthcoming to help.”
Blackwell said the district did not have a contact number for a person from Facebook but got help from the Arkansas State Police. “We also contacted the FBI cyber unit.”
He said the district understood that tracing the online threats was “way above us.”
“That was the most frustrating thing about this. You kind of pride yourself on taking care of this, but most of this was above us,” Blackwell said. “The thing was we were able to determine who was online. It was interesting, and I learned a lot if anything goes forward, who to start with. We kind of went up the chain, learning as we went. After 36 years of being an administrator, you still get to learn something.”
Blackwell said it was too early to determine what would happen to the student next as far as possible expulsion, but it would be up to the Rose Bud School Board. The juvenile court case will be handled by 17th Judicial District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Norene Smith, according to Prosecuting Attorney Becky McCoy.
In announcing on Facebook Live on Tuesday night that a suspect had been detained, Rose Bud Mayor Shawn Gorham said, “First off, we want to thank you for your patience and your understanding as we work to ensure the 100 percent safety of our kids, our teachers, our faculty and our entire community.”
Gorham said authorities were up late into the night and their “hard work has paid off.”
Blackwell said he echoed Gorham’s sentiments and thanked everyone for their work during this process, including administrators, principals, Police Chief Stephen Schaumleffel, the White County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police for helping sweep the buildings and making sure that the search warrant for the suspect was taken care of.
Rose Bud’s schools opened at regular time Wednesday morning. “Hopefully, we can get back to a normal schedule as we have taken care of this issue,” Blackwell said.
Gorham told parents to rest assured that their children and grandchildren will be safe. “We take every situation very highly, especially when there is violence against our kids, against our teachers or any one of our community members.”
He said he is sure the police chief and superintendent would agree with him that “if you threaten our kids, we’re going to catch you and you’re going to pay the fullest extent of the law; it is that simple. We are here to protect. We are here to serve.”
He urged everyone to thank the officers involved and administrators.
Originally, Rose Bud announced Monday afternoon that on-site classes would be back to normal Tuesday, but before 10 p.m. Monday, the district announced that because of another threat, the campus would be closed and students would pivot to virtual learning.
The first threat was received by Rose Bud High School Principal David Dodge early Monday morning through Facebook Messenger and targeted the high school and elementary. Blackwell said the buildings and perimeter of the campus were thoroughly searched, including using two bomb-sniffing dogs from North Little Rock during one of the sweeps, to make sure it was clear of danger.
The second threat, through Snapchat, at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday targeted specific students, Schaumleffel said, adding that “maybe six students” were mentioned and they were close in age to the student who was arrested.
“The first threat, they were going to blow up the school and shoot it up,” Schaumleffel said. “The second one was that they were going to shoot it up and they [the named students] were the targeted ones.”