Sheriff warns about rumors on social media after school lockdown

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Deputies warned about rumors on social media after a big scare in Polk County Thursday morning.

The sound of a vehicle backfiring led to a temporary lockdown at Lake Gibson High School and sent people running for cover.

“I heard, it sounded like gunshots at first,” Student Dhmarr Betard said. “Everybody was like running into the classrooms and the teachers put us on lockdown in the classrooms.”

Parents were kept back at a nearby gas station until things returned to normal.  Until then, many relied on their children and social media for updates. Reports of an active shooter spread on social media like wildfire.

“I got a text from my youngest child saying they’re shooting, they’re shooting,” parent Jocelyn Perkins said. “People were saying there was 12 shots came from behind the building. Then they’re saying two guys were fighting and a gun went off.”

“When parents start seeing those types of tweets about gunfire on campus they’re freaked out,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “We already had information from the office, it’s a car backfire. We went there just to be safe and secure,” Sheriff Judd said witnesses cleared up the confusion right away, but social media took over.

“I don’t like it because my mom was blowing up my phone and stuff,” Betard said.

“Social media is what blew it up because once that went out, it started multiplying. Next thing we know we have a full blown panic going on,” Sheriff Judd said.

Judd encouraged students and parents to be more cautious when sharing information on social media instead of complicating things for investigators and causing unnecessary stress.

“Know before you share. Check before you share,” Judd said.

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