Sandalwood High School quashes shooting rumors

Students, parents notified rumors were false

(iStock / eyecrave)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After the shooting at Episcopal School last week, rumors of violence began circulating at area high schools. 

There was a rumor circulating last week at Yulee Middle School that there might be danger at school, but that turned out to be false.

The same thing happened Thursday morning at Sandalwood High School. Student Amanda Lewis became very concerned over rumors of possible violence that started circulating through texts and on Facebook.

"Some students are going home, they're like not coming to school," said Lewis.

Sandalwood High started to quell those rumors, making an announcement that there was no safety issue on campus to students and alerting parents, but those alerts caused even more tension.

This is one example of text from a student to a parent obtained by Channel 4: "Just sent me a text that Sandalwood is calling all parents about a shooting that is supposed to take place tomorrow."

"There's been rumors circulating through social media that what happened off campus may come on campus," explained Duval County Schools spokeswoman Jill Johnson. "So we've had elevated police presence, but at no time have we had any lockdown or any child in danger."

Johnson said the rumors aren't true and it would be best if parents call the school when they hear the rumors and do something before kids spread them.

"Talk to your teacher, let them know I saw this on Facebook, on Twitter, 'I'm a little bit concerned.' Let them know because they may not have seen it," said Johnson.

But in this case, the rumors didn't just spread to parents. They filtered into the Channel 4 newsroom too.  In this age of text messages and Facebook, WJXT reached out to a media expert at the Poynter Institute, a journalism continuing education institute.

"First thing you need to worry about is, is it true? And if it's true, how do you know it's true?" Al Tompkins with Poynter said. "I would under-report the story on the air, but treat it seriously in the newsroom. It's like the fire department: They respond aggressively even when they feel it's not true."