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Perceived threat in Jackson County turned out not to be legit

RIPLEY, W.Va. — Parents getting their children ready for school in Jackson County Wednesday morning received an unsettling phone call. It was a recorded statement from Superintendent Will Hosaflook indicating a credible threat had been discovered on social media and to expect an increased level of police presence in the school system.

“Everyone was working together and we were trying to backtrack to see where the threat had come from and if it was imminent to this area,” said Hosaflook in an interview with MetroNews Affiliate WMOV Radio in Ravenswood.

Not long after Hosaflook’s message, Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger posted to Facebook his officers had spoken to the individual who reported the threat and were able to determine the threat was unfounded and had not originated in the area.

“There was never any connection to Jackson County. There was never any threat to Jackson County Schools and there was never any threat at all from the onset, but we were able to work on that and confirm there was zero treat,” he said.

The report came from a female student in the Jackson County school system. She saw the threat on social media, which seemed to glorify the Uvalde school shooter. Mellinger said it looked legitimate and she made the call to share it with law enforcement.

“It appeared to be a pretty legitimate threat found online by a Jackson County student. She did the right thing, under the ‘see something, say something’ mindset and she reported it,” said Mellinger.

It took some leg work by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia State Police, the FBI, and the Fusion Center to assess the situation and work through the matter to determine there never was a legitimate threat. But Mellinger said that is how investigations work.

Hosaflook likewise had praise for the cooperation of law enforcement and the school system.

“The school system and law enforcement collaborated. We had a common message that went out and I think everything went very well. The message said, ‘there is no threat, our schools are safe,” he said.

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