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60 Michigan schools close amid ‘tidal wave’ of copycat threats after Oxford High School shooting

Students hug at a memorial at Oxford High School.
Students hug at a memorial at Oxford High School, where authorities say a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at the school killing four students and wounding seven other people on Tuesday.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Thursday that at least 60 Michigan schools have closed amid copycat threats following the Oxford High School shooting Tuesday, and he made a vow to those making false claims: “We will find you.”

Bouchard said authorities “anticipated a flood of false threats,” which are straining resources. The FBI and the Secret Service have joined to help assess claims, he said.

“I don’t know what’s in people’s minds to make them think that after a real tragedy it makes sense to make false threats,” Bouchard said. “It is ridiculous that you’re inflaming the fears and passion of parents and teachers and the community in the midst of a real tragedy.”

Some think it’s funny, whereas others think it’ll get them out of school, but Bouchard stressed, it’s a crime.

“I’m confident (those making false claims) will be held accountable,” he added. “If you’re making threats, we’re going to find you.”

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Bouchard was joined Thursday afternoon by Oakland County Executive David Coulter, prosecutor Karen McDonald, area police chiefs, school superintendents and FBI officials to discuss the “tidal wave” of copycat threats in the wake of the Oxford shooting that killed four students and injured seven people.

The teenage suspect in Tuesday’s high school shooting in Michigan is charged as an adult as a fourth student dies.

“A false threat of terrorism is a felony, it’s a 20-year felony. We will charge it and we will hold people accountable,” McDonald said.

Bouchard said his department is “ramping up” its investigation into the threats, which he said affected schools as far as Bay City. The sheriff added that none of the threats was credible.

The news briefing comes after numerous Metro Detroit school districts have canceled classes or dealt with a deluge of students seeking to leave schools amid reports of social media messages that some have interpreted as threatening similar violence.

Authorities in Southfield, Sterling Heights and Flint said they made arrests tied to school threats.

In Troy, the school district canceled Thursday classes after learning of a Snapchat message of a rumored threat to a school in Rochester or Troy.

Similarly, Holly Area Schools “received multiple reports of a potential shooting threat” on social media late Wednesday, sparking an investigation by the Holly Police Department.

Warren Consolidated Schools, Walled Lake Consolidated School District, Rochester Community Schools, Bloomfield Hills and Huron Valley Schools, among others, closed Thursday for similar reasons. West Bloomfield School District shut down activities and closed schools through Friday.

Other districts said they were aware of threats and were increasing safety measures but chose not to cancel classes. Detroit Country Day School and Berkley School District were among those to remain open.

In Southfield, a 17-year-old is accused of bringing a gun to school Wednesday and in Sterling Heights, a girl was arrested after making threats against Sterling Heights Stevenson High School, authorities said.

On Wednesday, Oxford High School sophomore Ethan Crumbley was arraigned on 24 counts tied to the Tuesday shooting at the school.

Crumbley, 15, who was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, terrorism and other counts, is being held in Oakland County Jail without bond.

Bouchard said Thursday that former claims of rumored threats in Oxford weren’t related to Tuesday’s shooting and weren’t deemed credible.

Earlier Thursday, Michigan Supt. of Public Instruction Michael Rice said individuals making threats against schools should be prosecuted and face “significant consequences.”


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