Technology often makes it difficult for law enforcement to identify persons involved in a threat.
Mahomet Police Chief Mike Metzler finds himself in that predicament today.
After following-up with a potential threat made by a minor enrolled at Mahomet-Seymour High School Thursday afternoon, Metzler said he felt like the situation had been handled.
When he received notice of another threat allegedly by the same minor Thursday night, Metzler followed-up.
After three hours of talking to students, the minor and his mother Thursday night, Metzler was convinced that the minor posted the first post, but not the second post that went “viral” among Mahomet-Seymour youth.
“I talked in depth with him about this and I believe that he was not responsible for the post that we all started getting at 9 p.m. last night,” Metzler said.
Upon further investigation Friday morning, talking to Forensic Computer Analysts, Metzler saw the way that social media pages can be altered by third parties and rapidly circulated.
Metzler said that once the manipulation has been done, “there is no record or trace on the original person’s Facebook page.”
“I’m convinced that someone else, in an effort to screw with him or stir people up put together the other one,” he said.
Although the Mahomet Police Department is working on tracing the texts messages back to the original creator of the social media manipulation, Metzler said, “following that funnel back is not easy.”
“We’ve been trying to find if there is a way that we can backtrack that and so far we have not been successful,” he said.
In order to not encourage copycat situations, Metzler believes it is appropriate to not give out the details of the tools and processes used to manipulate social media.
In a statement made earlier Thursday, Metzler said that the Mahomet Police Department will continue to do everything they can legally ensure student safety.
He also encourages those with screenshots of the original post or the secondary post to not re-circulate the post via text message or social media.
The screenshot contains the name of the minor.
” I don’t want to make this kid, or anyone else a target,” he said.
“Secondly, it serves to stir up the fears and emotions of people who may be seeing it for the first time.”