The Troy School District was among many districts in metro Detroit to receive threats of violence in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting on Nov. 30.

The Troy School District was among many districts in metro Detroit to receive threats of violence in the wake of the Oxford High School shooting on Nov. 30.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Troy schools respond to threats in the wake of Oxford shooting

‘We cannot allow this to paralyze our community’

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published December 8, 2021


TROY — Many families are understandably anxious following the shooting at Oxford High School on Nov. 30 that left four students dead and seven people injured.

Compounding those fears was the fact that many schools in metro Detroit, including Troy Public Schools, received copycat threats of violence. Although local police departments are saying that most, if not all, of the threats were hoaxes, they are still taking strong steps to keep students safe.

“We have been trying to provide extra patrols at all buildings throughout the Troy School District,” Sgt. Jason Clark of the Troy Police Department said in an email. “We have been unable to substantiate any credible threat against the Troy School District. We were out all morning today (Dec. 6) providing a presence to support the students in our community as they returned to the classroom, and will continue providing extra patrols throughout the week.”

One such threat aimed at Troy students was posted on Snapchat Dec. 2.

School officials said they were immediately in contact with the Troy police and now believe the same message was sent by the same source to several different schools in different districts.

“I want to thank many of you who have reached out with tips on another rumored threat spread on Snapchat,” Kerry Birmingham, the director of communications and strategic initiatives for the Troy School District, said in a press release. “We were made aware of the rumor last night (Dec. 2) by Troy Police and immediately went to work. It appears that they have now replaced the name of one school with another and replicated the message this afternoon.”

Birmingham said that the threat appeared to be a hoax and they are now coordinating with the police to try to find who sent it.

“Police are investigating but have found no evidence of a credible threat at this time,” Birmingham wrote. “Their computer analysts are working diligently, but it’s very difficult to track screenshots that can be created and manipulated using various websites and platforms. Unfortunately, teenagers have learned how to create fake conversations, fake snapchats, turn off geo-tagging and share using a virtual private network. This is a very serious issue, and sadly, a common problem in the wake of mass shootings. We cannot allow this to paralyze our community.”

She went on to stress the importance of talking with teens about the real dangers of posting fake threats.

“It is very important to speak to your children about the consequences of making or spreading these kinds of rumors online,” explained Birmingham. “Anyone who make false threats could face charges for false threat of terrorism, which is a 20-year felony, and misdemeanor malicious use of a telephone.”

Troy School District officials also said that in response to the overwhelming number of unsubstantiated threats being made on social media across the metro Detroit area, the FBI has set up a command post in Detroit staffed by 40 agents and computer analysts. They added that the Troy police are in close contact with this team and that they will continue to work collaboratively to keep the community safe.

Troy School District schools will continue all planned activities, and although classes were canceled Dec. 2 and 3 because of the threat, all classes resumed as of Dec. 6.

Birmingham said they want everyone to report any possible threats or signs of danger to school officials or the police. However, she also urges families in the district to not panic or believe every rumor.

“We know that anxiety is very high right now, and as we explained yesterday, the Troy police and the TSD take every threat or rumor of threat very seriously. But we want our families to know that we will not be sending out a mass message with every unsubstantiated rumor online. We want you to report them to us — and to the police — but after consultation with TPD, it’s important that we do not further build panic and fear by sharing rumors that have no credibility. We are asking our students not to spread false information on their networks, and it’s critical that we do the same,” she wrote. “If, at any time, a credible threat is uncovered — or police need more time to investigate — we will err on the side of caution and notify our families as quickly as possible.”

At press time, students in the Lake Orion and Utica school districts had been arrested for making threats.