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Rocklin police

Justin Paul Herrmann

Social media scare at Rocklin high schools leads to 3 arrests

Published: Friday, May. 30, 2014 - 7:05 am
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 2, 2014 - 11:59 pm

Social media postings related to gun violence at two Placer County high schools led to the arrest of two juveniles and an 18-year-old.

Two people under 18, whose names were not released, were arrested on suspicion of making annoying electronics communications and criminal threats. Justin Paul Herrmann, 18, of Rocklin was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats through a third party and obstructing a police investigation.

“We take all threats of violence at our schools or in our city seriously,” said Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence.

The social media scare began shortly after noon Thursday when Whitney High School’s principal told Rocklin police about a rumor that a shooting was supposed to occur Friday on campus. The principal was informed of the rumors by the parent of a Whitney student.

The rumors were traced to an Instagram profile created seven weeks ago. The profile read: “Whitney High School new world order 5/30/14.”

No evidence of guns, shootings or threats was found in the profile, police said in a news release. Students told school administrators and a police officer that they followed the Instagram profile briefly, but there had been no activity on the profile since April 10.

The profile caused little stir until Thursday when students became alarmed by the post’s mention of Friday’s date, May 30, 2014.

Despite a lack of an overt threat in the post, school officials and Rocklin police issued a notification, prompting 911 calls by concerned parents, social media conversation and anonymous tips to the Police Department.

Later Thursday, Rocklin police found separate threats of school gun violence posted on Twitter, according to the release. Those threats were not believed to be associated with the Instagram post.

“These new postings of school gun violence were against both Whitney High School, as well as Rocklin High School, and caused more confusion and alarm among students and parents,” the release states.

Police investigated leads on social media and visited three homes where they believed young people involved in the new postings against the schools lived.

Due to the ongoing investigation, police will not release specific threats made against the two high schools.

“However, the threats were determined to be gun-related and were in a variety of different posts,” the press release states.

Rocklin police had planned to beef up patrols at Rocklin Unified School District schools on Friday.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof

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