School: Investigators root out person who made school threat on Instagram

Threat put Pendleton school officials on alert

PENDLETON, Ind. - The Instagram user who made a violent threat this week was identified, South Madison school officials said. One of the district's central-Indiana middle schools added 10 officers to its security ranks Wednesday after the threat was made, possibly against students at the school.

The South Madison Community School Corporation sent out a message to its parents Wednesday morning about the possible threat made to Pendleton Heights Middle School:

Dear PHMS Parents:

Last evening someone posted a threat against PHMS students anonymously via Instagram. The Pendleton Police Department was immediately contacted and a plan put into place to make sure our students were safe at school this morning. Ten officers from the local, county, and state police were in our building prior to students arriving and stayed until all students were safely in class. The school is working with the police to learn who is responsible for this threat.

RTV6 first learned of the threat from a parent who has students at both the middle school and a Pendleton elementary school. She said a neighbor showed her the threat on Instagram on Tuesday. She described the threat as an image of two swords and an animated, evil-looking medieval character, with text threatening to kill several students.

The image had "PHMS," which put Pendleton officials on alert.

The mother told us when she called Pendleton Heights M.S. Wednesday morning, officials told her the threat was under investigation and that they had stationed extra officers to the campus for extra security.

The mother told us she decided to keep all her kids home Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, parents were notified by the school district that investigators had rooted out the person responsible for the Instagram post.

The school sent out this message: 

On Tuesday evening someone posted an anonymous message on Instagram, threatening “PHMS” students. While the Instagram post did not specifically identify Pendleton Heights Middle School, the principal notified the Pendleton Police Department of the threat. As a precaution, police officers from a variety of agencies were present at PHMS on Wednesday to ensure the safety of students.  No other school in the district was a target of threats.

Through the diligent efforts of school officials and Madison County law enforcement, the individual who posted the Instagram message has been identified.

The safety of students will continue to be a top priority of South Madison Community School Corporation.  If at any time you believe the safety of our students is in jeopardy, please contact the school immediately; and if school is not in session, please contact the local law enforcement agency.

The heightened security at the school came the same day as a stabbing at a Pennsylvania school that left several students seriously wounded. 

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