A 17-year-old Edmonds-Woodway High School student will be charged in juvenile court for the crime of cyber threats after posting a threatening message on the social media platform SnapChat Wednesday.
“The reckless decision to post such an inflammatory photo — in light of all the school shootings across our nation — caused our community great concern,” said Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan. “We take these matters very seriously. The perpetrator is being held accountable.”
According to Edmonds Police Sgt. Shane Hawley, the message posted around noon Nov. 7 contained a photo of an unknown person holding a rifle with the caption “time to have some fun at Woodway”. The post was brought to the attention of staff at Edmonds-Woodway High School, who then notified the department’s school resource officer.
An investigation was begun to determine the source of the post and credibility of any threat to the school or community.
Working with the Edmonds School District, police were able to trace the post back to a 17-year-old male student at EWHS.
“It turns out the picture was of a completely unknown person, taken at an unknown time,” Hawley said. The picture was originally altered by a student at Southridge High School in Beaverton, Ore., and captioned with “time to have some fun at Southridge”.
The Edmonds-Woodway student is friends with the Oregon student and requested he alter the photo caption, changing “Southridge” to “Woodway”.
“The newly-altered photo was posted to a select chat group of friends,” Hawley said. “The chat topics had nothing to do with school violence and it appears this picture took them by surprise as there was no talk of school violence or plans being made by anyone.”
The photo was captured by someone and then began spreading throughout other chat groups. It finally reached the school administration, but by then had passed through many channels and tracking it to a single source was difficult, Hawley said.
By the late evening hours Nov. 7, police had tracked the photo back to the EWHS student and contacted him. “We determined he had no way of carrying out a threat of that magnitude, no plan of violence and never intended for the picture to leave that chat group,” Hawley said. “Despite those facts, the picture caused a significant amount of fear amongst the EWHS school community.”