Traverse City Police investigate possible threats at Central High School


Over the course of a little over a week, Traverse City Police have been investigating three possible threats made by Central High School students on social media.

Two of those threats were found to not be credible, and police are still investigating the third.

But according to police and Traverse City Area Public Schools, a lot of rumors have circulated about the situation, and they want to assure parents that students are safe.

The investigation began with a message on Snapchat.

Police say a picture of a weapon was snapped and sent from one student to another.

"It was a very non specific threat," said Capt. Jim Bussell. "It wasn't even actually a threat. It was a post of a weapon and the mention of shooting things up."

The student who received the message screenshot it and sent it to other students, and the message quickly circulated.

"We identified and located the original person that created that message, talked to that person and their parents," said Bussell. "We were allowed into the home to check for weapons and none were located. And they've been very cooperative. There was no crime."

Investigators believe the picture of the weapon came from the internet.

In the meantime, police received two more similar reports involving students and Snapchat messages.

"All three different people, all three unrelated," said Bussell.

No weapons were found in those investigations either, but police say one of those messages was directed at a specific student and charges could be coming.

"That one we are going to send to the prosecutor's office for review," Bussell said.

In addition to dealing with the investigation, police and TCAPS are also trying to get a handle on rumors that have been spreading between students and parents.

Bussell said the rumors have gotten so bad that the police department received calls Wednesday morning about an active shooter at Central High School.

"That's just not true," Bussell said. "It's the telephone game. Basically what's happened is it's been passed from one person to another and each time it's embellished a little bit until we get to this point."

"First we were dealing with it with direct phone calls to parents but enough parents called that we said you know what we're going to need to send a communication out," said TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma.

Some of what was being spread was information about a possible hit list, and a plan for students to 'shoot the school up,' on Thursday.

None of which police say they have found any evidence of.

"We don't have anything to lead us to believe there are any elevated threat levels or anything more to worry about than normal," said Bussell. "If we did believe that we would certainly be contacting the school and developing an action plan to deal with that."

"We take this matter so seriously," said Soma. "These are our children. We're not going to have school if there's any indication that there's a 1% threat. We're not going to have school. However we can't cancel school for every time there's a social media post by a student who says I was just kidding. This is the dilemma that we're in."

TCAPS sent an email to parents Tuesday letting them know they knew what was going on, and ensuring them that students were safe.

"Generally parents want information that we're not allowed to provide," Soma said. "Who did it? What did you do to them? What was their consequence? We as a school system, for good reason, aren't allowed to share that information."

They're now asking parents to talk more to their students about the consequences of threatening social media posts.

And if parents or students see questionable things like this, they ask that you call the school or police first before sending it around it others.

TCAPS could not comment on whether or not disciplinary action was taken against any of the students involved in the posts. In general, Soma said when a student posts a threat, they are immediately suspended and many times expelled.

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