Chesterton Tribune



CHS student makes school threat to hacked Facebook account

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A Chesterton High School student was taken to hospital for “evaluation” on Sunday after he hacked into another student’s Facebook account and posted to that account a threat to “shoot up” the high school, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police is reporting.

School was in session today and classes began at the usual time, after the PCSP--along with the Chesterton Police Department and Duneland Schools officials--determined later Sunday evening that the posted threat was not “credible.”

According to the PCSP, at 6:14 p.m. Sunday its department “received information of a threat made on social media that spread within minutes,” posted to the Facebook account of a current CHS student--and Liberty Township resident--who “allegedly put in his status that he was ‘going to shoot up the school.’”

Investigators subsequently learned that the Liberty Township student had previously shared his cell phone with another student, who appears to have hacked into the Liberty Township student’s Facebook account to post the threat.

The hacker “has been taken to the hospital for evaluation,” the PCSP said.

“We are aware, and feel it is important to note, (that) in our investigation we learned there are two subjects who attend the high school with the exact same name as the individual who allegedly made the post,” the PCSP added.

“The names of the subjects involved will not be released as they are all juveniles and no charges are pending at this time,” the PCSP said.

Sgt. Jamie Erow, PCSP spokesperson, was unable to say this morning whether the student who posted the threat was still being evaluated at hospital today or had been released to the custody of his parents, citing HIPPA privacy regulations.

“All parents with children involved in the incident have been cooperative throughout the investigation and are continuing to work with investigators,” the PCSP said. “While all information at this point in the investigation has led us to believe that this is not a credible threat, rest assured it has been treated as such. While this investigation is not complete and will be ongoing with cell phone extractions and working with Facebook, we are confident we have located the sole subject responsible for posting the threat and are taking all steps necessary to see the investigation through.”

For its part, Dunleand Schools released the following statement at 10:14 p.m. Sunday to CHS parents:

“This evening, Chesterton High School received a threatening post on social media. An investigation was launched immediately by school officials and local law enforcement.

“We have investigated this situation and we believe it to be a social media hacking of a student’s account.

“School will be in session tomorrow at its normal time. We will follow our normal protocol to have school resource officers and school administrators, teachers, and staff present at the school in the morning. Even though the situation is under control, we would like to make you aware that we will have additional police presence at the school for our students’ safety.

Thank you to our students, parents and community for being proactive in alerting us to this situation.”

For the record, under Indiana Code, a person who communicates a threat to commit a “forcible felony,” with the intent of causing a structure to be evacuated, commits a Level 6 felony, punishable by a term of six to 30 months.

Also under Indiana Code, a person who communicates a threat to place a bomb in a building commits false informing, also a Level 6 felony.

CHS Today

Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski told the Chesterton Tribune today that the CPD was notified of the posted Facebook threat early Sunday evening, and on learning that the account belongs to a Liberty Township resident promptly contacted the PCSP. “We were advised that the Sheriff’s Department was already aware of the threat and was following through,” he said. “The CPD assisted that investigation and our School Resource Officer was also involved.”

This morning extra CPD personnel have been tasked from their regular duties and assigned to patrols at CHS, both in uniform and in plainclothes, Cincoski said. The CPD’s presence at other Duneland Schools in the Town of Chesterton today was routine, he added.

In addition, the PCSP was providing a presence as well at CHS today. “This is being done to provide a peace of mind to faculty, staff, students, and parents, as every school’s safety and the safety of our students is a top priority,” the PCSP said.

Cincoski did praise the PCSP for its rapid response to and resolution of the threat. “I want to specifically credit the Sheriff’s Department for its diligence in investigating the Facebook post and the cooperation of all the law enforcement agencies which quickly came together to handle it,” he said.

Some Parents Still Uncertain

Despite assurances from law enforcement and school officials, some parents of CHS students still elected to keep their children at home today. “I have decided to keep all four of my Duneland students home in light of the threat made towards CHS,” one mother told the Tribune. “I am not entirely convinced that the situation has been resolved, despite assurances from police and the school. I do not feel that the school gave me enough facts to make me feel that the situation was completely rectified. It’s my job as a parent to protect my children and go with my ‘gut instinct.’ I do not feel okay sending my kids to school on a day that they are scared to go. I do not feel okay sending my kids on a day that I’m terrified to send them. I would never forgive myself if I sent them and something happened. It’s absolutely not worth the risk.”

Another mother had this to say: “My job is first and foremost to protect my children. I have confidence in the CPD and the school administration, but the information provided was inadequate for me to feel that the threat was eliminated. We are still reeling from Florida. A threat of that magnitude can’t be taken lightly. If nothing else, I want the schools to know that we are the parents here and we ultimately make the call when it comes to our kids’ safety and well-being. If my gut tells me to keep my child home, I’m going to do it.”

The Duneland Schools administration did not respond this morning to a request from the Tribune for the average daily absentee rate at CHS and today’s absentee rate.



Posted 3/5/2018





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