Dozens of jittery Michigan school districts are canceling classes or sending students home early amid “fear and anxiety” stemming from the deadly Oxford High School shooting.
Authorities in southwest Michigan said they have received scores of complaints and reports of possible threats since the Tuesday afternoon shooting in the Wolverine State that left four students dead and seven others wounded, Fox affiliate WJBK-TV reported Thursday.
“Overnight, in less than a 24-hour period, we had 28 complaints that came into the sheriff’s office,” Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham told the station. “We had to follow up on each one of those.”
“We always have to be thinking and be two or three steps ahead of everybody so we can keep our community safe and keep the schools safe,” Wickersham added.
As of 9:15 a.m. Thursday, about 60 Michigan schools had dismissed students early or told them not to come to class, as parents and pupils continue to report threats — real or perceived threats, the outlet said.
Law enforcement officials said some of the threats are believed to be copycats.
“What we’re finding is there’s two ways (threats) are happening,” Wickersham said.
“One is everybody is aware of what happened and is believing that it could happen in the school,” he said, “and they’re thinking about a moment when somebody may have said something off-color, may have made a remark about hurting somebody. And now they’re reporting those.”
In Sterling Heights, a threat was found written on the bathroom wall of a junior high school, while students at Plymouth-Canton Community Schools were sent home early due to “fear and anxiety” causing “significant disruption” in learning, the outlet said.
“Throughout the evening we have been working in cooperation with the Canton Township Police Department to investigate several social media posts involving threats of violence at (Putnam-Canton schools),” the district said in a statement.
“These disturbing posts have been circulated among P-CEP students and appear to be re-posts from other areas,” the statement said, WJBK reported.
The jitters come in the wake of the Tuesday afternoon mass shooting at Oxford High School, about 40 miles outside Detroit.
Ethan Crumbley, a 15-year-old sophomore, is charged with 24 counts, including first-degree murder and terrorism, after allegedly killing four and wounding seven others.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office has not divulged a motive for the deadly rampage, but said Crumbley had twice been called to the office — including with his parents hours before the attack — over his “behavior in the classroom.”