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Administration offers assurances after supposed threat

Deputy Sheriff Jason Clinkinbeard helped investigate the perceived threat. Photo by Zach Fink

Bruins woke up on the last morning before Christmas break to an email informing them of a concerning Instagram comment that contained a vague gun threat posted the night before.

The comment was posted on Thursday December 19, in the early evening, on a Bear River Leadership-run Instagram post advertising the ‘Festive Friday’ spirit day. Bear River Principal Christopher Roberts sent out an all-call email to parents the next morning, assuring parents of their students’ safety. 

“Good morning Bruin Families,” he said. “Last night, in a response to an Instagram post on our Bear River Instagram page, someone made a very vague comment that they ‘have a gun.’ The page was immediately taken down and school officials were notified.”

He went on to describe the other actions administration made in response to the comment.

“We then contacted law enforcement,” he said. “They immediately began investigating the comment. In the meantime and as a precaution, law enforcement will be on campus this morning and throughout the day along with other county and district personnel to maintain the safety of our campus. The safety and security of the students at Bear River is our number one priority. Even though law enforcement and school officials feel that this situation is vague in nature, we are taking all necessary precautions.”

Encouraging students to finish out the week before going on break, Mr. Roberts thanked students and parents who notified the school of the situation last night.  

Vice Principal Cathy Peterson went more in-depth about the safety measures that the school and the district took in this situation. 

“We were notified immediately, the school got on it right away,” she said. “Mr. Roberts and I were in constant communication with one another. We contacted Nevada County Sheriff’s office, and had a deputy on it right away. I contacted… the coordinator of emergency services, and… she was here bright and early at 6:40 this morning, so we had two deputies on, they had come at six and done the perimeter search.”

She also described the method they used to inform families and staff.

“We sent out a written thing to the faculty late last night, and we did another one this morning with an all call to the parents,” Ms. Peterson said. “We found out who the guilty party is, so things all in all came together very well. It was not a student from our school, it’s a younger student.” 

Nevada County Deputy Sheriff Jason Clinkinbeard went even more in depth about an inside perspective of what law enforcement does when these incidents occur. 

“For something like this, we take the threat, or what’s perceived as a threat, the information there, and try to do as much follow up as we can,” he said. “We find out who made the statement, do the follow up with that individual and do a threat assessment on the validity of the threat, whether it was a bad joke gone wrong that nobody thinks is funny or if it falls on criminal side and whether they have a way to carry out that threat or an intent to carry out that threat …  We question them, their family… if they mention a gun, see if they have guns in the house, see if they have access to guns, things of that nature.”

Still, many Bruin families erred on the side of caution. Temporary Attendance Official Cindy Olson said that attendance was affected by the comment “immensely.” 

She elaborated that some students were “called out” before school started, and others “came and left.”

Senior Colby Greig described his feelings about the situation.

“I never have [felt safe at school],” he said. “Too many people out there are not very smart.”

Out of 83 people polled on the BRCurrent Instagram, 43% said that they felt safe at school on Friday the 20th, while 57% said that they did not. 

Deputy Clinkinbeard offered a message to students feeling unsafe at school. 

“Your staff does take every threat seriously and they do notify law enforcement,” he said. “… I’ve been an SRO (School Resource Officer) for several years now; it seems maybe twice a year we have something like this. We all know now that 99.9% of them are either really bad jokes or didn’t happen at all… somebody heard something that actually wasn’t said, or they misconstrued what was actually said, or saw a posting on social media that they misinterpreted. But we treat every threat seriously and we look into it fully.” 

— Morgan Ham contributed to this report. 

(left) Screenshot of Instagram comment that was investigated. (right) Vice Principal Cathy Peterson explained how the administration handles threats like these. Photo by Zach Fink
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Administration offers assurances after supposed threat