Mabton student expelled in connection with Instagram threats, police say

MABTON, Wash. — The Mabton School District has expelled a student in connection with social media threats that led to a lockdown and school closures this week, according to police.

“We have determined that there is no further threat at this point,” Mabton Police Chief Eduardo Garcia said. “The schools will reopen tomorrow.”

Garcia said the incident began Tuesday morning when police learned someone had been making “vague threats” on social media, which they believed to be directed at Mabton Junior Senior High School.

READ: Social media threat prompts school closure

Those threats were reportedly posted on a now-deleted Instagram account under the username “mhss.ecrets.” Garcia said the account is known to law enforcement.

“People will go on there and post things, [but] not to this level, nothing to where they’re going to harm somebody,” Garcia said. “This is the first time something like this has come up on that site, through Instagram.”

Garcia said they were unsure at first which school was being targeted, but decided to respond to the high school just in case. He said the threatening posts continued to escalate and became more specific throughout the day.

According to Garcia, one of the posts mentioned counting bullets, which led police to believe the person making the threats intended to use some type of firearm.

“Anytime you start getting that detailed, it leads us to believe that they may have a plan in place,” Garcia said. “That’s when the school immediately went to lockdown and then immediately closed and sent everybody home as quick as possible.”

The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and Granger Police Department were on scene to help to make sure students and staff were able to safely get to their vehicles or buses to leave the area.

“We also did a security sweep of the school,” Garcia said. “We did a secondary search and then we started trying to work on the source of the threat.”

Working together with Instagram, the school district and the sheriff’s office, investigators were reportedly able to identify the source of the threat by early Wednesday afternoon.

“A juvenile student has now been expelled in relation to the source of the threat,” Mabton police said in a Facebook post. “Police do not have any more details to release at this time as the investigation continues.”

Garcia said the schools will reopen tomorrow with regular hours and police will be on campus to ease any lingering concerns students may have about coming back to school.

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