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Police: Hanover High School shooting threat may not have been directed at NH school

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent

March 20. 2018 11:07PM
Police are investigating an apparent threat made regarding the school on an Instagram account. (HANOVERHIGH.ORG PHOTO)



HANOVER — Police say a social media shooting threat to Hanover High School likely came from outside of the Upper Valley area, and may not have been directed to the New Hampshire high school in the first place.

“We’ve got evidence that is pointing us outside the Upper Valley area,” Hanover Police Lt. Scott Rathburn said Tuesday.

Around 6:26 a.m. Tuesday Hanover police were notified of a potential threat to several high school students via social media. “The threat included the use of a firearm, but has not identified any specific person or times,” Hanover police said in a news release Tuesday afternoon. “The Hanover Police Department is actively investigating the matter and working cooperatively with Hanover High School and SAU #70.”

Hanover Police Capt. Mark Bodanza said Tuesday that calls to police and the high school Tuesday morning alerted authorities of the Instagram page.

“This morning a concerned parent called us concerning that their child had received an invitation to follow an Instagram account, HanoverHighShooting, that caused obviously concern with the content, with possibly shooting students,” Bodanza said. “That was the name of the group to follow and the message pertained to potentially shooting somebody today or in the future.”

Bodanza said the threat did not identify a specific person or location.

Rathburn said later on Tuesday afternoon that the students may not have been invited by the account maker, but as a feature of Instagram, which invites users to accounts that are related to other accounts they already follow.

“I have the post in front of me right now and there is nothing specifically connecting it to Hanover, New Hampshire,” Rathburn said.

Hanover is not the only Hanover in the county, nor the only Hanover High School. Hanover, Mass., has a Hanover High School.

“Could this be someone putting this out to a number of Hanovers simply for creating a stir, that could be,” Rathburn said.

“I have heard from one other Hanover community just making sure we were aware of it,” he said.

“I was contacted by one other police department and they wanted to make sure we were aware of this and I brought them up to date on what we had.”

A random suggestion by a social media site, or not, police are continuing to investigate the matter to find the account creator.

“Certainly in keeping with the safety of our students and campus in mind we’re going to investigate to determine is this specific to our area or not,” Rathburn said.

Rathburn said police have contacted Facebook, which owns Instagram, and are working to find who created the account.

Police are also working with other law enforcement agencies, he said.

Toward the end of the day, Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis said in a news release, “After a rigorous day of investigation into this matter the Hanover Police Department believes several of the leads are coming to a direct ‘point of interest.’ At this time, we are able to release that this point of interest is not in the immediate area of the Upper Valley.”

Tuesday school officials decided against canceling school or going into a lock-down.

Hanover High School continued its school day, but went from an open campus to a closed campus on Tuesday.

“There’s no cancellations, no delays and we do have an officer stationed at the school there,” Bodanza said Tuesday.

Rathburn said school will continue as normal today with police presence as a safety measure.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Bodanza at 603-643-2222.


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