Police say a social media video of a Milton High School student showing off his pellet gun was altered by another student who added text that read “Don’t go to school.”
Police are calling the incident a social media joke that went wrong because the post—originally made on the platform Snapchat—prompted a brief lockdown of Milton High School on Friday morning.
Milton Police Chief Scott Marquardt said reports came in just before 7 a.m. Friday of a possible threat to students at the high school after a Snapchat photo surfaced of a student holding what appeared to be a firearm. The photo had a caption that read “Don’t go to school.”
Within a half-hour, Janesville police located and took into custody a 15-year-old Milton High School student.
The student admitted to posting and sharing a video of the student holding a realistic-looking CO2 pellet pistol, but police learned the student was not responsible for the “Don’t go to school” caption.
The student claimed someone else made a screen-grab copy of the video and altered the image to add the caption. The photo was then posted and shared to a different group of friends on Snapchat.
The student said the original video never had a caption and never was intended as a threat, police said.
Police learned that another Milton High School student had altered the video to create a threatening post and interviewed that student Friday morning.
The student told police the altered image with the “Don’t go to school” caption was shared with a small group of friends as a joke, not as a real threat.
Friends who saw the Snapchat told police they were aware the image was of a pellet gun, not a real firearm.
Police said the juvenile who made the original video faces no charges or school sanctions. The student who altered the video as a mock threat was released to a parent, but the student could face sanctions pending the outcome of an investigation.
Police and school officials believe the incident offers a lesson to students about their actions in an era in which school shootings have become almost commonplace.
“This incident is a cautionary tale about the impact of our words and actions,” Marquardt said. “Even when done in jest, there can be unintended consequences from behavior like this in our current age.”