SIERRA VISTA — A threat of a possible shooting at Buena High School that gained traction over the weekend on social media was deemed a “misunderstanding” by the Sierra Vista Police Department prior to the start of Monday’s school day.
“After an extensive police investigation, it was determined there was no actual threat of any kind reference shooting up the school,” read a statement from SVPD that was shared on the Sierra Vista Unified School District No. 68 Facebook page. “The incident was a misunderstanding that was extensively blown out of proportion based on unreliable information that was obtained through second and third party social media venues.”
In fact, it appears the perceived threat arose out of a social media chat about a relationship breakup, according to the Sierra Vista Police Department via a release sent by the City of Sierra Vista.
“The chat was sent to one or more students and began circulating rapidly before it was reported to the Sierra Vista Police Department,” the release states. “Following an extensive investigation by SVPD, officers discovered that the message was distributed by a third party and stemmed from another Snapchat conversation. The original message about a relationship breakup read, ‘I hope he doesn’t start something at school,’ before evolving into ‘nobody go to Buena tmr since ni#! wanna shoot Buena and shi$.’ “
As part of their investigation into the matter, Sierra Vista police interviewed a number of people who reported the messages, along with several people involved in the initial Snapchat conversation. Ultimately, they determined the supposed threat was nonexistent and it was safe for students to attend Buena Monday.
Some of the social media posts that circulated warned students to take caution if they attended school. Screenshots of some of the messages, which were obtained by the Herald/Review from multiple parents, referenced what had appeared to be the initial threat.
“Ok so for everyone who doesn’t understand the shooting threat there is a student who sent out a very serious treat about shooting up buena and it hasn’t become an email yet but if you do go to buena please be safe,” one of the images read.
A second warning echoed the same sentiments.
“Ay for all my people out here that go to buena please watch be careful and on edge tomorrow. I don’t want any of y’all getting hurt. They don’t know if it’s real or not but if you’re able try not to go to school,” read the message from an unnamed source.
SVUSD announced prior to the conclusion of the investigation that there would be extra police presence throughout the day Monday. Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said sheriff’s deputies were also at the school on Monday for “prevention and support” purposes.
The initial report of the alleged threats was made to CCSO early Sunday night.
“Based on the high school being in the city, the reporting party was referred to SVPD,” Dannels said.
Classes resumed as normal Monday morning and any student who stayed home needed to have a parent call the school to excuse them for the day. Information regarding the number of absences weren’t available by Monday evening.
Though the supposed threat turned out to be false, police thanked area residents who reported what they saw and heard.
“SVPD, and law enforcement as a whole, takes these types of calls seriously and will fully investigate each one,” said Sierra Vista Police Division Commander Lawrence Boutte. “We appreciate those who called in the threat when they got it. We encourage those on the front end to call the police immediately rather than potentially creating an environment of fear through the distribution of inaccurate or unverified information.”