April Fools’ ‘shooter’ prank prompts police response at State High

A police car is parked outside the State College Area High School South Building on Wednesday.
A police car is parked outside the State College Area High School South Building on Wednesday. CDT photo

An April Fools’ Day prank fell flat at State College Area High School on Wednesday morning.

Not long after school started, a student decided to play a joke on her mother, texting her a message that said there was a shooter at the South Building.

And that’s when things got real.

According to State College police, the mother called 911 at 9:06 a.m.

Superintendent Bob O’Donnell said that was the right thing to do, as any threat needs to be taken seriously.

“Police took it seriously, too,” district spokesman Chris Rosenblum said.

The school resource officer was on the scene immediately, “assessing the situation firsthand with principals and the student,” according to an email sent from the district to parents.

Within one minute, Rosenblum said, he was joined by seven additional officers. Both the district and the State College police defaulted to a series of established protocols to address the would-be threat.

“The protocols worked on both sides,” Rosenblum said. “The district followed them to the letter.”

Rosenblum could not identify the student, but said the incident is being investigated by police and the district.

The district sent out an email to all district personnel and SCASD families alerting them about the incident and letting them know that there was never a genuine threat posed.

“Because we practice our Secure in Place drills several times per year, I want you to know how proud I am of all of our students,” said Mount Nittany Elementary School Principal Deb Latta in an email to families. “The classroom doors were locked but the teachers were allowed to continue teaching and have ‘business as usual.’ We did not go into detail about the situation with the students; therefore, many of them simply assumed a bear had wandered near our property as sometimes happens in this area.”

Latta took the extra precaution when she learned of the incident, not because of any district protocols, Rosenblum.

“Everyone is safe,” said Rosenblum, who said the student has admitted that it was “an erroneous April Fools’ joke.”