A string of incidents, included a rumored hit list has parents in the Quincy Valley on alert and the police and school district working long hours to try and stem the tidal wave of worry.
Captain Ryan Green from the Quincy Police Department said that the troubles began on Dec. 3, when a rumor of a supposed hit list surfaced around the town. QPD investigators questioned a student, searched him and his backpack and determined that there was no hit list.
The rumors persisted, Green said,
John Boyd, superintendent of Quincy schools said the district posted a letter online to parents, establishing that the investigation by the police and the school district, which interviewed more than a dozen students, yielded no hit list or evidence that there had been one.
Then graffiti appeared in one of the girls’ restrooms, warning of a shooting planned for Dec. 9.
“Unfortunately, it was in an area where there (were) no cameras, and we weren’t sure when it was written, or by whom, so there wasn’t a lot of information officers could go off of,” Green said.
Boyd said that a subsequent investigation also deemed the threat as not credible.
Despite the vagueness of the threat, the QPD decided to beef up patrol around the area, Green said, just in case.
Then, as rumors persisted, and parents continued worrying, an Instagram account with related posts turned up.
“Someone had an Instagram post pretending to be the student who was rumored to have the hit list,” Boyd said.
With that lead in hand, the work went into overdrive.
“We called in detectives and worked through the night trying to identify the Instagram page,” Green said.
Ultimately, the account was traced to a 14-year-old boy who attended the middle school. The boy’s guardians were contacted and the boy interviewed by police.
“He admitted to making comments that he was to, not necessarily shoot up the school but shoot someone who attended the school,” Green said. “I don’t have the exact verbiage but there were some threats there.”
The student then said that it was all a joke.
“We explained to the kid that it was still all very alarming stuff,” Green said, adding that the school district was advised of the development in the investigation.
“By the end of it, he (the student) caught on that he had really messed up,” Green said. “Really poor decision.”
Green added that eventually, the QPD will send a report to the Grant County Prosecutor’s Office so that they can determine whether the student will face charges.
“He could be looking at what they call felony harassment, basically threats to do harm,” Green said. “Even if he is joking, it depends on how other people take it, and in this case, he alarmed several people and got a lot of parents upset about what’s going on. It’s unfortunate and frustrating for sure.”
Boyd said that the student has been placed on emergency expulsion status.
“Emergency expulsion is a tool that we use to create separation from the school until a determination of the discipline has been made,” Boyd said.
Lastly, Green said he wanted Quincy children to go to school and feel comfortable while at it.
“I hope we can convey the message that we are doing the best we can,” Green said.
Furthermore, Green called on the community to collaborate if they have any information regarding the rumored hit list, whose alleged existence still has people concerned.
“If anybody has any information about this hit list, we would like to know,” Green said. “If they have any information, they can call 509-787-2222.”
At the same time, the school district pleaded with parents to monitor their children’s social media activities.
“Make sure that they are on top and aware of how students are using social media,” Boyd said. “Not only for those concerns about those who are doing these illegal things, but students who are watching, listening and perpetuating the rumors out there.”
Boyd then added that Quincy is not alone fighting these dangerous rumors.
“It’s a pervasive thing that we are seeing,” said Boyd, “Not just in the Quincy school district, but also in Wenatchee, Spokane, Cheney, Lake Roosevelt, Moses Lake, we are all dealing with some iteration of this nonsense.”