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Police help squelch rumors spread via social media

A rumor sparked on social media last weekend that caused some parents of Cairo High School students to question whether it was safe to send their children to school on Monday was quickly debunked by local law enforcement. School officials learned Sunday around 5 p.m. that a post on the social media tool Snapchat was circulating locally warning students of “CHS” to avoid school the next day. That ominous threat was accompanied by a menacing photo of a teenaged, white male holding what appeared to be a weapon. Cairo Police soon determined, though, that the “CHS” in the post was actually referring to a high school in New Mexico, not Cairo.
‘I would like to thank Chief (Keith) Sandefur and the Cairo Police Department for their quick action,” says Chris Lokey, Principal of Cairo High.
Chief Sandefur says investigators used the internet to track down the truth and by 6:23 p.m. Sunday had determined that the actual origin of the threat was in New Mexico and the school targeted was Clovis High School.
“The same way the rumors spread was the same way we determined the actual origin,” Chief Sandefur said.
The social media post that frightened many here stated, “F_ _ _ CHS I’m going out with a bang don’t go to school tmrw.”
In their investigation Sunday, Cairo Police discovered that an arrest in the case had already been made in New Mexico two days prior, on Friday.
“I’m thankful an arrest was made so swiftly and the suspect was unable to carry out his threat. I’m glad nothing actually happened and no one was hurt,” Chief Sandefur said.
In an effort to end any further spread of the rumor in Grady County, Mr. Lokey issued a recorded statement to parents Sunday evening to let them know about the matter and the Cairo Police Department’s findings. He sent the recording to parents of current students at Cairo High via the school’s telephone all-call program. Lokey also offered to talk with parents individually should they have questions.
Police Chief Sandefur says he can not believe that of all the schools in the nation with the initials CHS, that people were convinced that the CHS in the individual’s threat was Cairo High School.
“It’s terrible how misinformation can spread so quickly,” the chief added.
In his recorded statement, Mr. Lokey thanked those who reported the social media post. Their actions helped stop the rumor mill from continuing to turn out erroneous information. “It is important that we work together to make school as safe as possible. It is also important that we do not spread rumors and create unnecessary chaos,” he stated.

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