Children and parents in Harrisburg, South Dakota, took to social media Sunday night for a scare that is all too familiar and one that many in the community will remember for some time to come.
Dakota News Now reports that people received a threatening message via the social media platform Snapchat around 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening (September 25).
The post contained an image of an assault weapon along with the caption “wait until tomorrow,” a threat to teach people a lesson, and a racial slur.”
As you can imagine, the message spread like wildfire and thousands of people received it in no time. This included the parents of children in the Harrisburg and Sioux Falls school districts.
Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Swenson told Dakota News Now that he was alerted to the news at 8:30 a.m. that evening after receiving a series of concerned texts and phone calls personally regarding the situation.
Swenson immediately contacted Lincoln County Detectives and the Sioux Falls Police Department for assistance. The suspect responsible for sending the threatening social media message was quickly identified and arrested for making a terrorist threat up until 10pm that night.
Dakota News Now reports that the suspect responsible is a student at Harrisburg High School. The male college student is charged with a Class 5 felony in South Dakota.
According to Dakota News Now, immediately after the suspect’s arrest, the Harrisburg School District notified parents in the community that it was safe for their children to attend school Monday and that the district intended to allocate additional deputies on duty that day to have.
At noon Monday, the Harrisburg School District emailed the following message to all parents in the district to update them on the situation:
Dear HSD families & employees:
Because we are limited as to the information we can legally share, we cannot provide many details regarding an incident that occurred last night other than to say that a threat was made against the high school on social media became. The Harrisburg School District Office has cooperated with law enforcement. A formalized threat analysis is being completed and an arrest has been made. The person will not be going to school for the foreseeable future. Please note that we will continue to work diligently to ensure the safety of all Harrisburg stakeholders. Additional questions may be directed to the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office.
As you may recall, the City of Harrisburg is all too familiar with situations involving gun violence in its schools. In 2015, a student brought a gun to school and ended up shooting the principal at Harrisburg High School in the arm.
According to Swenson, the district appears to have had threats like Sunday night’s about once a year. Typically, it is “children who behave irresponsibly”. Fortunately, in this case, after a thorough investigation into the social media threat conducted Sunday night, it was found not to be credible.
However, law enforcement and school officials take any threat of this nature very seriously and will do everything possible to keep the children in the community safe.
As Swenson says, the allegation of a terrorist threat is serious.
He told Dakota News Now, “There’s nothing funny about that. They really terrorized 1600 students who go to this high school and I don’t think most of them didn’t intend that. You don’t realize the extent to which social media can be your worst enemy if misused.”
Source: Dakota News Now
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Flashback 1992: Inside Sioux Falls Old Washington High School
Before it was the Pavilion, the corner of Main Avenue and 11th Street in Sioux Falls was home to many of the city’s schools for most of the 20th century.
WHS’s first class of 328 students began in 1908 on the site of the former Central School. It was the only high school in Sioux Falls until Lincoln High’s completion in 1965.
Check out the footage below for a throwback to 1992.