Students locked down at Bayonne High School after mistaken shooting threat

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BAYONNE – Students were on lockdown at Bayonne High School this morning after a message circulated through social media threating a school shooting at “BHS,” an acronym for the New Mexico high school, Belan High School that was confused with Bayonne.
“All BHS students prepare to see my wrath tomorrow,” reads the message, which is also laced with emojis. “I’m going to be the next to go down in history you SCUMS… All you guys made fun of me and laugh at me now it’s my turn for revenge and it’s finally here. Beware my AR-15 will be in my duffle bag.”
The Bayonne Police Department was alerted this morning to a potential threat, which triggered the protocol for a precautionary lockdown at the high school. The false alarm was debunked in short time, according to Mayor James Davis, much to the relief of the community.
“You know how social media works. It spreads like wildfire,” said Mayor Davis standing outside of Bayonne High School. “Finally, the authorities get wind of it and they have to take it as a credible threat. So, the high school and the security went right into motion as they are trained to handle situations like this. Then, they determined that it was a different BHS.”
The lockdown required parents to come to the school to sign out students. With more than 10,000 students at BHS, a long line of parents and family members circled the school waiting in the rain.
“It started spiraling out of control in the morning,” said Ghidlane Maachi, who was waiting at 10 a.m. to pick up her daughter, a senior at BHS.
“The kid wanted to make his name in history,” said Jon, 19, who has waiting for his siblings outside of the high school.
“This process is going to take some time. But we can’t just let kids out. They are in class and they are safe,” BHS Principal Richard Bacarella assured parents waiting in line. Many remained frustrated with the slow processing time.
Snapchat, the most popular social media platform among high school students, is designed to delete communications within a short amount of time. Thus, the only way to save a message is to take a screenshot. Information is therefore difficult to confirm.
The Snapchat message received by the Hudson Reporter was an image of a phone screenshot of another screenshot of the original message. Each degree of separation greatly reduces users’ ability to verify sources and accuracy.
Other New Jersey schools this week have experienced similar false alarms. Among them, a school in Nutley that closed last week for several days after a video of local students firing a rifle and handgun were posted to Instagram, according to CBS New York. A school in Parsippany was on lock down for 35 minutes last week after a student found a bullet in a hallway, according to the Daily Record.
Bloomfield and Little Falls have also investigated online posts in the last week, including a photo of a student with a gun and an inflammatory reference to the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.