Police: School gun threat unfounded

Snapchat post leads to investigations at two districts

The Altoona Area School District and Altoona Police Department Tuesday night investigated a Snapchat post circulating on social media referencing threats of a school shooting.

The threats were baseless, Altoona police determined.

“This threat was investigated fully by the Altoona Police Department patrol and criminal investigation divisions. At this time, it is determined that the threat is NOT credible and the safety of our students is NOT at risk,” an APD Facebook post made about 11 p.m. Tuesday stated.

Altoona Area School District spokeswoman Paula Foreman said the Snapchat activity insinuating a gun threat stemmed from a misinterpretation of a verbal altercation among some students at lunch Tuesday in the cafeteria, which was quickly ended by administrators, Foreman said.

The threatening post, however, reached Chestnut Ridge Middle School as well by Wednesday morning.

State police at Bedford responded to the middle school about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday while the school district’s in-house police officer was conducting search­es of students as they came to school.

“A student provided a screen shot of a Snapchat conversation with information on a possible school shooting,” a state police public information release stated.

“Upon investigation, it was determined the initial threat was made against Altoona Area School District and authorities in Blair County had already addressed the incident. There is no known pending threat against Chestnut Ridge School District or any other Bedford area school districts,” the state police public information release stated.

Chestnut Ridge Superintendent Mark Kudlaweic said a couple of female seventh-grade students were friends or followers of a girl who attends the Altoona Area School District and who had posted something ominous to her Snapchat story.

Kudlaweic said he did not know how the threat was worded.

The Chestnut Ridge students showed a teacher the threat Wednesday morning as students were still arriving.

The origin and target of the threat was not clear to Kudlaweic and Chestnut Ridge faculty who are unfamiliar with Snapchat, so a search of students was conducted for about five minutes as students arrived until Altoona police informed Bedford police that the threat was already diffused.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.