On Thursday morning, Dunbar High School went on lockdown while Fort Myers police investigated an online threat.
The Fort Myers Police Department says all students and faculty are safe.
According to School District of Lee County Spokesman Rob Spicker, a meme posted on social media falsely claimed there was a school shooter on campus. There is no shooter, and the lockdown is only a precaution while FMPD investigates.
The lockdown was lifted around 10:30 a.m.
“This investigation remains very active,” FMPD wrote in a statement. “We take the safety of each of our students and staff very seriously and we continue to investigate to get to the source of this hoax. Parents please communicate with your children about the severity of these fake threats and the impacts that they have to include swift and very real consequences.”
Dunbar High School Principal Carl Burnside sent parents the following email shortly before 9 a.m.:
“Good morning Tiger family,
This email is to inform you that a social media meme is circulating that claims there is an active shooter at Dunbar High School. This is not true and your student is safe.
Out of an abundance of caution, the school is on lockdown while the Fort Myers Police Department investigates the source of this meme.
I will update you with more information when it becomes available.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
Fort Myers police detectives call the threat “A hoax.” They say no students were ever in danger, but the fear was real.
“Right away, I called my son and asked him what was going on,” said Crystle Bermin, a Dunbar High School parent.
“My heart was racing. And I was literally doing like 90 on the way here trying to like, you know, see what’s going on to get to him so I could see him and know everything is OK,” said Dunbar High School parent Jolisa Pete.
Lee County schools say they first saw the shooter on campus meme around 8 a.m. and immediately put the school on lockdown. FMPD responded quickly and determined the threat was fake.
“The way the police came out here responded, it gives me a little comfort,” said Pete.
What’s still unsettling is not knowing who made the threat. The meme circulated from student to student via airdrop, so tracing it will be tough.
“There’s not a history log on the airdrops. So, you know, not being able to see where the files came from or transfer around from one phone to another may be difficult,” said Mike Chandler, from Wireless Paradise.
Phone expert Ronnie Turner agrees. He says users can set their names to anything. “When you send something, it sends as the name that you made that device.”
After our interview, Chandler decided to do some research, sending himself an airdrop, then opening it on his laptop. He was able to find the camera’s make and model.
If he can figure that out, he thinks FMPD can do better. “I know they have a lot more tools than the public has to offer.”
Parents just hope the person or people responsible are found soon.