Maui News

Big Island Police: Social Media Comments ‘Spiraled Out of Control’

February 21, 2018, 12:16 PM HST
* Updated February 21, 12:20 PM
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UPDATE: (11:05 a.m. 2.21.18)

Keaʻau School. PC: Big Island Now

Social media comments inferring the threat of gun violence at Big Island schools at the end of January “spiraled out of control, causing concern for parents,” Hawaiʻi Police Department Puna Patrol Area I Capt. Samuel Jelsma told Maui Now’s sister site, Big Island Now this morning.

In response, additional officers were sent to the Pāhoa and Kea‘au schools indicated in the social media posts on Jan. 29.

The posts were brought to the attention of school official on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and the HPD responded “immediately and appropriately,” Capt. Jelsma said.

Capt. Jelsma said three officers were sent to Pāhoa High School, joining the schools resource officer. Four officers were sent to Kea‘au High School this morning as well, although no specific or direct threats were made.

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“There were no recent threats made for either school,” said Capt. Jelsma, “only chatter on social media.”

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Capt. Jelsma assured that any and all threats are taken seriously and will be handled appropriately.

In the case of the threat made to a Pāhoa High School student, HPD initiated a harassment complaint case against a 17-year-old girl. The girl is not a student at the school, said Capt. Jelsma. She was released and the case is being routed to Family Court.

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In the back of everyone’s mind is the spate of deadly shootings at schools, including one last week at a Florida high school.  The incident has prompted several “copycat threats” at other schools across the country, putting authorities on alert.

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