NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office is investigating possible criminal charges against the people responsible for a hoax threat against the Woden Independent School District.
Sheriff's Officials received word of an unspecified threat around 7:00 p.m. Sunday and later determined the Facebook post to be a hoax.
Scheduled classes on Monday are not affected, according to Sheriff Jason Bridges. "We will have deputies at the school to make sure our students and teachers are safe while our kids receive a quality education," Bridges said. "This is nothing more than a hoax, yes a serious one, but there is no real threat towards the safety of the school from this person."
Bridges said the person behind the hoax has been identified and may be charged at the conclusion of the investigation.
He said Monday morning that the Facebook page is called "Woden Trash" and that a post seen Sunday night involved a violent threat against the school.
"This social media site was created on Facebook by three individuals. First of all, these individuals do not attend Woden schools, they have in the past, but they are no longer there," said Bridges. "They basically created this site as a way to talk trash I guess about people they didn't like or had problems with when they went to school there several years ago."
In a press release, Bridges said they were originally dealing with an anonymous person with a fictitious name that made a statement on Facebook.
"There were a lot of rumors going around that a certain person was responsible for this media site," the press release stated. "By 7 p.m., the Sheriff's Office was interviewing that person and two other people. It was found that this particular person had nothing to do with this social media site."
NCSO investigators spent the next several hours calling and interviewing potential witnesses. The press release said, at the same time, investigators were dealing with Facebook in an effort to obtain the IP address of the computer that made the posting to Facebook. At approximately 12 a.m. Monday, investigators contacted the Internet service provider, who gave authorities the physical address of the residence.
"What we were dealing with was a social media site in the cyber world and the creator of it had a fictitous name and put fictitious information out there, so that's where it started. We had some information that a certain person had maybe created this web site so of course we stared conducting interviews and by seven o'clock we were already interviewing two different people," Bridges said.
Using that information, the NCSO was able to identify three suspects. According to the press release, all three are cooperating fully with the investigation. The investigation revealed that one of the suspects allegedly made a statement online that referenced Woden ISD. The statement was in reference to an ongoing blog of comments about several different things, the press release stated.
"It said...shooting at Woden School," said Brady Taylor, the Superintendent for Woden ISD.
In the blog, several individuals started talking about a fight happening at Woden ISD. According to the press release, none of the suspects currently attend Woden ISD.
"From the information that we have gathered, I can assure all our citizens that this was nothing more than a hoax, and none of these suspects present a viable threat toward our school," Bridges said. "We still have a few more things that we are checking on for this investigation, and at the conclusion of it we will file the proper charges against the suspects."
Bridges said he wanted to reassure parents and students that the Woden school district is safe. As a precaution, he will have NCSO deputies at the school throughout the week, so law enforcement will have a presence there and students will feel safe.
"I can assure everyone that if we felt that this was a real threat that school would have been canceled and I certainly would not have allowed my son to go there this morning.," Bridges said.
Taylor says he doesn't believe the creators of the web site intended for the hoax to even happen, but says it's not a funny joke.
"We had a number of parents who kept their kids home because of it and it's definitely going to cost the district some money because of that but for those parents who want to keep their kids safe and secure--I don't blame them at all," Taylor said.
Taylor says about 150 kids didn't show up to school on Monday.
Wooden ISD consists of three campuses: Woden Elementary, Woden Junior High School, and Woden High School. The district's enrollment is 806 students, according to the Texas Education Agency.