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Mat-Su schools add extra law enforcement after social media threat

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: May 26, 2019
  • Published May 9, 2019

A school-shooting threat on social media prompted several Mat-Su schools to boost law-enforcement presence Thursday morning.

Officials at Palmer High School and Colony middle and high schools sent out alerts to families about the threat and the increased presence while making it clear both schools were open as usual.

The threat was being investigated but was not deemed credible, Mat-Su Borough School District spokeswoman Jillian Morrissey said. “At this time, they don’t believe it’s a dangerous threat.”

A Palmer High School student received an anonymous message on Snapchat on Wednesday night that mentioned a school shooting, according to Palmer police chief Lance Ketterling. The sender did not say which school.

Palmer police officers patrolled Palmer high and junior high schools Thursday “just to be (on) the safe side," Ketterling said in a message. His department is investigating the message and the sender’s identity.

Alaska State Troopers sent six patrol troopers to the area of Palmer High and Colony middle and high schools as a precaution, according to Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Megan Peters. As troopers were responding, they received a report of a threat to Colony Middle School that turned out to be “the same generic threat received the night before,” Peters wrote in an email.

The Palmer High School principal, Paul Reid, was alerted to the message Wednesday night, Morrissey said.

The social media post “alerted students not to attend school today. The post indicated there would be a school shooting," Reid wrote in a message to school families. “There is no evidence at this point to suggest this threat is true.”

The principal at nearby Colony Middle School, Mary Fulp, also sent an alert Thursday morning saying officials there became aware of the threat Thursday morning and notified law enforcement, which arrived immediately.

Both principals as well as authorities asked parents or students with information about the threat to notify them, or law enforcement.

“Troopers take these threats seriously and will be taking every investigative step possible to identify where the threat came from” and who sent it, Peters wrote. “Should locations or people be identified criminal charges may be filed.”

The Palmer police investigation was still ongoing as of Thursday afternoon.