Area schools deal with online falsehoods, hoaxes

Threats, rumors and outright falsehoods are complicating the work of local police trying to keep students safe at area schools.

Hope Town Marshall Matt Tallent said that he has been trying to tamp down false reports on social media about an incident involving a student at the school. Tallent said that the student made a verbal threat last week that has taken on a life of its own, including false online accusations of assault rifles and bombs being involved.

None of that is true, Tallent said. They did interview a student yesterday about the threats and removed two weapons from the home — a pistol and small caliber rifle. But the student was not arrested and much of the social media posts about the incident are false, Tallent said. Police are now talking to students who heard the original verbal threat.

A second incident in Hope revolved around two students with a beef between them and that threat led to one student being expelled.

Tallent said that three officers are in the Hope schools today as a precaution and a Bartholomew County deputy is patrolling the outside area. But there is no threat at Hauser High School or Hope Elementary.

Lt. Matt Harris with the Columbus police also dismissed false rumors circulating on social media. He said a false rumor was spreading that a threatening note had been found in a Columbus East restroom that promised an attack today. That simply did not happen, Harris said. He said one way that people can help police is to stop spreading rumors on social media and instead reporting information directly to law enforcement.

Seymour authorities said that they investigated what turned out to be a hoax that was spreading through social media. The fake report turned out to have originated in Pennsylvania and had nothing to do with Seymour High School. Police did thank the public for bringing it to their attention.