MILES, TX — A threat on SnapChat made against Miles High School has placed that small community on high alert today. According to rumors spread there, some kids at the high school posted on SnapChat that they intended to shoot up the school at 2 p.m. today.
Runnels County Sheriff Carl L. Squyres said law enforcement in Miles has already acted. He said the suspects responsible for the threat have been either contacted or detained. Witnesses reported to us that there was a large presence of law enforcement, including Runnels County Sheriff’s Deputies and DPS, at the school this morning.
“Miles High is not under lockdown and there was no evacuation,” Squyres said. He added that there is absolutely no danger at the school.
The threats on SnapChat made against Miles High followed Lake View High in San Angelo being practically evacuated following similar threats made on SnapChat today.
SnapChat allows its users to create disappearing messages and informs the SnapChat user publishing the message who took a screenshot of the message. Screenshots of these threats are then spread quickly through SnapChat and perhaps other social media platforms that foment panic. At Lake View, the threat from SnapChat was enhanced when more rumors spread primarily through messaging apps that gunfire was heard inside the high school.
Authorities are saying that the penalty for the person making threats on social media needs to be stiffer to deter disruptions to schools. Lake View classes are likely canceled today. In Miles, authorities were able to gain control of the situation before panic began. Miles is a much smaller school.
Most terroristic threat charges in Texas are misdemeanors. However, threatening a large group of people can rise to a Second Degree Felony with a punishment range of two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
There are no penalties for social media platforms that carry those threats as they are protected by federal law known as Section 230. Under Section 230, the user and not the platform is legally liable for content the user creates.
Section 230 is under scrutiny by both political parties in the U.S. Congress. Republicans and Democrats say the law needs to be revised. Some local authorities agree.
“If you’re going to be the envelope for these threats, you need to pay a price,” said Tom Green County Sheriff Nick Hanna.