JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — There are serious consequences for a Jefferson County student who said his social media post threatening violence at school was just a joke.
It was no joke to authorities, and it was a big scare for families at multiple high schools, including Dakota Ridge and Columbine.
According to Jefferson County authorities, it started when a former student, who had attended Dakota Ridge and Columbine, sent a picture of himself to a friend.
That friend, who is a current student at Dakota Ridge, then added a threatening caption and posted it to Snapchat as a joke.
The caption read in part, “The time has come. Don’t come to school tomorrow if you want to live.”
The post went viral, prompting more than 200 calls to 911, and dozens of reports to Safe2Tell.
“This was meant to be a joke,” said John McDonald, the executive director of security and emergency management for Jefferson County Public Schools.
He said the person in the picture had nothing to do with it.
“I really feel terrible for him. He is a victim in this,” McDonald said.
Families across the area were scared.
“You don’t get anything out of it other than a frightened community,” parent Jamie Kingsford said. “Especially people that have been in this area with Columbine.”
With the school shooting in Florida last week, district leaders said the joke was not funny. It’s a crime.
“We’re not going to tolerate this. We’re drawing a line in the sand. It’s no more, not here, not now,” McDonald said.
There will be consequences legally and at school.
“You can’t say bomb on a plane. You can’t say fire in a theater, and you certainly can’t say shooting in a school,” McDonald said.
The suspect is facing charges of harassment and interference with school operations, both misdemeanors.
There was no specific school mentioned in the post, so it circulated through other communities, including Brighton.
The Brighton Police Department let the community know it was a hoax. Police also investigated a threatening message left in a school bathroom.
Investigators were unable to validate the threat.