FBI sees significant uptick in school threats since last year

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Polls found a majority of teens are at least somewhat worried a shooting could happen at their school and it’s understandable. According to an Education Week publication, there have been 27 school shootings in the U.S. so far this year – and the FBI has seen a similar worrying trend.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said the Albuquerque Field Office has received 19 shooting threat reports between January 1 and July 1 this year – up from just two threats at the same time last year.

“It’s safe to say the FBI in Albuquerque is seeing a significant increase in school shooting threats this year,” Fisher said while describing some of the factors driving the increase. “More people are on social media, the pandemic, people spending more time indoors. We’ve heard how this is exacting a toll on young people on their mental health.”

The school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last month could also be contributing to the increase.

“We find that, after shootings in other parts of the country, we tend to get copycat threat callers who will try to call in and ride that wave of publicity,” Fisher explained.

No matter the reason, the FBI takes each threat seriously – and at least three people have been arrested for making threats this year, including Edgewood teen Emma Haviland.

The 17-year-old girl allegedly posted the message, “Hello Edgewood, anyone want to shoot up the school? I need a partner,” to the Yik Yak social media app. Yik Yak allows people to post anonymously but The FBI and New Mexico State Police worked together and tracked Haviland down.

According to Fisher, social media platforms and Internet service providers have also been very cooperative with law enforcement.

Haviland reportedly told police her post was ‘just a joke’ but the consequences it carries are nothing to joke about.

“A hoax threat on social media carries up to five years in federal prison,” Fisher said, “and a young person starting out in adulthood can have a felony on his or her record which nobody wants.”

Fisher said everyone should take threats seriously and never assume it’s a joke. The FBI encourages everyone to follow the adage of ‘See Something, Say Something’.

“In too many of these situations, we’ve seen people come forward after the fact and say they wish they would have said something,” Fisher explained. “We hope that parents and students take this to heart. This number, we’re not just throwing that out there to sensationalize the issue, this is a serious issue.”

The number to report threats is 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).