SKOWHEGAN — Skowhegan police say they have no information to substantiate rumors that a student was planning to go to Skowhegan Area High School and shoot people.

Such rumors apparently have gone viral on social media to the point that many parents went to the high school Friday to take their children home, according to Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam.

“There’s nothing accurate about those rumors whatsoever,” Bucknam said Friday in his office at the Municipal Building.

At the high school, Jonathan Moody, assistant superintendent of School Administrative District 54, said safety is the district’s No. 1 concern and statements made were not of a specific nature.

“Any reference to specific threats that were made on social media — we have no information to substantiate those,” Moody said.

Bucknam said the rumors started circulating a little more than a week ago when a boy and a girl, both high school students, apparently had an argument. Rumors spread that the boy threatened to go to the high school Thursday and shoot people with a firearm, Bucknam said.

But police followed up on the report and met with both the boy and his parents and determined the report was not accurate, according to Bucknam.

Even so, parents were upset and many went to the school Friday and took their children out of school, he said. He noted that last year about this time, police got reports in reference to clowns doing something similar.

“We think it’s just possibly another version of that,” he said. “Right now we’re working with the school, and our school resource officer is on top of this whole rumor, but right now we have found absolutely nothing that shows any truth to anything being said.”

Moody said that at no time was anyone concerned about an immediate threat, but school officials always want to err on the side of caution when it comes to safety.

“There was a belief in the community that something was happening here, and that was a direct result of what was posted on social media,” he said.

Meanwhile, the schools sent out an email Friday to parents, notifying them that the high school became aware of a statement allegedly made by a student Oct. 27.

“This was a non-specific statement of a threatening nature,” says the statement, issued by Moody. “The school resource officer was sent to the student’s home and determined that there was no immediate threat, pending an investigation by the school administration. Since yesterday, rumors on social media have elevated parent concern. Please know that at this point in time we believe the rumors to be false and that your child is safe.”

The statement also says schools will continue to work with police to investigate the rumors and follow up appropriately.

“We urge you to assist by directing any questions to the Skowhegan High School administration or Skowhegan police department. We take the welfare of your child seriously and will continue to put student safety first as we work through this situation.”

Bucknam said he planned to send officers to the school at the end of the school day Friday to help with traffic flow. The school was never on lockdown of any type, and school officials and students were going about their daily activities, he said.

“We take the rumor seriously and our investigation right now is ongoing, but we’re not seeing any threats,” he said. “The priority for us is the kids at the school, making sure that they’re safe. The rumors are just not substantiated. We’ll continue to monitor everything and we’ll keep the parents aware if there are any changes.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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