Student Identified After Online Comment on School Mass Violence Threat Story
Concerns over gun remark brought police, crisis center intervention
A county school student who made an anonymous comment on a Bethesda Beat news story that was perceived as a threat was identified by police on Monday and taken to a crisis intervention center, according to the school system.
Over the weekend, a commenter with the user name “Prozmadik” commented on a story about a former Walter Johnson High School student who was sentenced Friday to probation for threatening “mass violence” at Walter Johnson High School last year.
The Prozmadik entry in a reader forum section said, “Na, I prefer a gun to the schools head,” and “I don’t blame him, I’ll probably do the same thing.”
On Wednesday afternoon, school system officials confirmed police were investigating a second comment on the article from a different username – this time “Prozmadik2” – that threatened a school shooting on Friday.
“hello Put a gun to the schools head. I’m shooting it up in two days,” the comment said.
School system Chief Operating Officer Andy Zuckerman said school officials began receiving messages from concerned community members about the initial comments around 5 a.m. Monday, and police were notified immediately.
By 8 a.m. Monday, police were working with officials from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Verizon to identify the IP address – a string of numbers unique to each computer using the internet – from which the comment originated and the commenter was identified by 11 a.m., Zuckerman said during a conversation about school safety at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
The school system would not provide additional information about the student.
Police confirmed they investigated the perceived threat, but a police spokesman was not available to elaborate Wednesday morning.
A school system spokesman asked Bethesda Beat to remove the comment at 12:47 p.m. Monday, and the comment was deleted shortly after.
The spokesman said the school system was “made aware of the concerning comments and worked closely with law enforcement to identify the commentator and address the matter quickly,” but declined further comment Tuesday afternoon.
The police had not contacted Bethesda Beat as of Wednesday.
“We regularly monitor the comments on Bethesda Beat stories,” said Steve Hull, editor and publisher of Bethesda Beat. “That being said, we are grateful when readers alert us to comments that may be inappropriate. We deleted the comment in question as soon as we became aware of it.”
Bethesda Beat turned off the ability for readers to comment on the original article and this story.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org