RICEVILLE | A former Riceville student messaged an unknown person online asking him to “shoot up Riceville School,” officials say.
A former Riceville student has been identified as the suspect behind a shooting threat that canceled classes in Riceville Thursday, law enforcement says.
The name of the suspect, a female, has not been released. The name of the person she was talking with also has not been released. No one has been charged.
On Wednesday, the Howard County Sheriff’s Office was given information from pre-K-12 Principal Cory Schumall, “that he had received information from the current students in regards to a former student chatting with them on the internet and and stating that she had asked an unknown person on the internet to shoot up people at the Riceville School on Thursday morning,” Sheriff Mike Miner said in a press release.
Students alerted the district to the "potential safety concern" about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Riceville Superintendent Barb Schwamman said via phone Thursday morning.
A preliminary investigation was done by the Howard County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday night and a number of current students were interviewed, Miner said.
“All of the students stated they had observed the former student on a website chatting with an unknown individual asking him to shoot up the Riceville School on Thursday morning,” Miner said. “The former student was known to be living in Rochester, Minnesota, and was questioned Wednesday night by the Howard County Sheriff’s Office and the Rochester Police Department.”
The former student told law enforcement she asked the unidentified person on the internet to shoot up the school but then also sent the unknown person an “acronym message” stating “just kidding.”
After a discussion with the school administration, it was decided to cancel school Thursday for the safety of all students and staff, Miner said. The Riceville Community Day Care is also located within the school district's building.
Riceville Schools and the Howard County Sheriff's Department released a statement after canceling classes Thursday.
"We are thankful to the students that reported this to school officials and it is important to discuss with your children and students that it is not appropriate, nor acceptable, to make threats, joke about, or make light of school shootings," the release stated. "We also continue to encourage anyone to report any threats to adults."
Riceville Schools opened again Friday with law enforcement present from both the Howard County Sheriff’s Office and the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office for safety and to help ease the minds of the students and staff at the school.
“We no longer believe there is a threat to the Riceville School (District) or the Riceville community,” Miner said. “This investigation has moved on to a criminal investigation and the FBI will continue to follow up on leads in this investigation.”
Any tips can be directed to the Howard County Sheriff’s Office at 563-547-3535.
The U.S. Attorney General and Howard County Attorney's Office are providing assistance in the investigation.
This threat comes just over a week after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fourteen students and three staff members were killed with many others injured.
There have been multiple stories across the U.S. of potential school shooting threats within the past week.