Police: Social media adds to anxiety after Florida shooting

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Police increases their presence Wednesday at Pahoa High School in response to online threats of gun violence at Pahoa High, Keaau High School and Konawaena High School.

Hawaii Island’s police chief said the decision to post extra officers on public school campuses Wednesday in Puna and Kona was made because social media “fed into the anxiety” of the community in the wake of perceived threats of possible gun violence made on the internet.

Chief Paul Ferreira noted Wednesday that police identified the juveniles thought responsible for the posts, “so having the officers at the schools was just an extra precaution, pretty much to get the community comfortable, because there was a lot of anxiety.”

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“On social media, everybody was picking up on it and reading into it,” Ferreira said. “It fed into the anxiety, because people were calling in to our dispatch, to our Pahoa station and to our Kona station, trying to find out what’s going on.”

Capt. Samuel Jelsma, the Puna police commander, said two patrol officers and two community policing officers spent the school day Wednesday at Pahoa High School, while four other officers, including a reserve officer and a recruit, kept the peace at Keaau High and Intermediate schools.

“No issues today, no incidents,” Jelsma said.

Maj. Robert Wagner, Area II Operations commander in Kona, said there were six officers at Konawaena High School, including a school resource officer assigned to Konawaena Middle School, which is on the same campus. He said no unusual incidents occurred Wednesday at the Kealakekua school.

According to Wagner and Jelsma, overtime was minimal because two Puna patrol officers were kept on duty three hours beyond the overnight shift, and a single Kona patrol officer earned an hour of overtime. All were assigned to take service calls to allow for the increased police presence at schools.

In Puna, a female student reported Tuesday that a 16-year-old girl posted Jan. 29 on Instagram that she would “bring a gun” to campus. Police opened a harassment case and routed it to Family Court for possible further action.

“Parents were alarmed, so we took appropriate measures,” Jelsma said. “Other than that post that was made at the end of January, there was nothing recent about an individual making a specific threat. But as a precaution, we put officers on both campuses.”

A 17-year-old Kona boy was charged with second-degree terroristic threatening, a misdemeanor, after allegedly referring online to “shooting up local schools.”

“Knowing social media and how it spread like a cancer (Tuesday) through the entire community … tells me it was new information that just popped up on the internet,” Wagner said. “Because there was a lot of people who called the police station about that posting on the internet, mainly parents who had kids in school. They were worried about that particular post.”

Both suspects were released to the custody of their parents.

The incidents came on the heels of a high school shooting last week in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people.

“I think the Florida thing has affected parents who have their kids in school,” Wagner said. “There’s a feeling of ‘this could happen anywhere,’ so they’re definitely on edge now. I’m not sure it necessarily put law enforcement on edge, but it put the public on edge.”

Jelsma described social media as “a double-edged sword.”

“There’s a lot of information that gets put out to the public immediately,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s the potential for inaccurate information to be posted, as well, and people, at times, take anything that’s posted as factual. So I think law enforcement needs to be aware of what’s been posted.

“It can be a benefit to us, but if there’s a lot of inaccurate information being posted, we have to be ready to respond and send out the facts, so everybody can make an informed decision.”

Wagner said police get “a lot of calls” concerning posts on social media.

“When we have those calls, we just look at the facts to see how credible it is or not,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff on social media that’s just totally wrong. It’s not even correct, not remotely correct. So we have to do our homework to figure out, ‘What is this? Is this even legit?’ You have to make that determination, and from there determine what course of action we’ll be taking.”

In light of the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Ferreira said police have to take even perceived threats online seriously.

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“We do take it very seriously when there is a threat like that. So even though we identified the individuals involved, we made a decision to show a presence at the schools to calm everyone down,” he said.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

  1. REV. JAMES G. BORDEN February 22, 2018 1:58 pm

    YAHWEH’S MINISTRY, HILO, HAWAII
    Excellent precautions by our Police Department.
    All our schools need armed security which can be accomplished by training and arming some teachers, retired police officers and retired military personnel.


    1. Hilo Jack February 22, 2018 8:08 pm

      Like the worthless fat pig in Florida who stood there and did nothing?

      Yeh – good idea!

      And lets arm teachers too!


      1. REV. JAMES G. BORDEN February 22, 2018 9:36 pm

        YAHWEH’S MINISTRY, HILO, HAWAII
        Why don’t back up your mouth by going to a police station and telling the police you don’t think they should be armed security at schools because you believe they would just be “worthless fat pigs”?
        You won’t because you don’t have guts, you’re just a big mouth who types safety in his home under some B.S. name of “Hilo Jack”.


        1. Hilo Jack February 23, 2018 4:44 am

          Oh I do have the guts.

          As for who has a big mouth, well you Janes G Borden win that prize hands down.

          To bad all that comes out of your big fat loud mouth is equal to what comes out of your big fat wide $hithole.

          Steal any more welfare money?


          1. REV. JAMES G. BORDEN February 23, 2018 11:50 am

            YAHWEH’S MINISTRY, HILO, HAWAII
            So, what Police Station did you go to and tell them they are “fat worthless pigs”?
            And, what was the name of the Police Officer you spoke to at the time.
            If you can’t honestly answer these two questions with real facts – the all you have is big mouth in criticizing the police and not having the guts to follow through on what you said you was going to do.


          2. Hilo Jack February 23, 2018 12:13 pm

            The fat pig cop in Florida who let 17 people of which 14 were kids get hunted and shot down some even shot over a dozen times while he sat outside.

            Also there’s is now proof coming out that multiple officers did the same thing.

            Further even the orange haired baboon is calling this fat worthless pig a loser as well.

            Now, answer this question. Why did you fraudulently steal welfare benefits of which you were convicted of? Especially when you hide behind a false “god” and call your $hit for brains loser scum bag self a reverend??

            Answer that question you pure $hit bag of hot air!!


          3. REV. JAMES G. BORDEN February 23, 2018 12:37 pm

            YAHWEH’S MINISTRY, HILO, HAWAII
            Hey, don’t try to weasel out of your commitment to go to a Big Island police station and tell a police officer that police officers are “fat worthless pigs.”
            You also said you had the “guts” so go do it!
            But, you won’t because you are gutless and a coward.
            All you can do is mouth-off on the social media under a phony name and it doesn’t even show a photo of yourself.
            You can call me any names you want, but I’m out in the public arena taking my stand in being Pro-Life.
            Why don’t you come out into the public and advocate for your pro-choice/pro-abortion position?
            You don’t show yourself in public because you have the backbone of a Hawaiian jellyfish.
            So, go on mouthing off how tough you are towards the police and use insulting words towards me, because you are nothing but meaningless babble.


          4. Hilo Jack February 23, 2018 12:55 pm

            First of all I never said I was going into a Hilo police station to say anything. That’s just something you made up to try to further your argument. Nothing I ever said. That’s a play right out of the head up your a$$ religious play book phony fu$ks like you use.

            Secondly I know all about your “pro life” bull$hit. All you care about is subjugation of women. You could care less about life. Your stance on 17 people being shot up in Florida is proof enough. Right to life has to mean much more than subjugation of women and protection of a fetus. Once it’s born you think life needs to fend for itself.

            I am not calling you names in any stretch of imagination. I am calling you factually what you are and do. You are a religious blow hard that hides behind a fake”god” you use to justify what you say and do. Any person with real guts would plainly see that there is no “god” it’s all a smoke screen used to justify your miserable cretin scum $hit pig puke phony life

            As for real guts, further proof you have none is your inability to admit your conviction in court for stealing welfare benefits.

            I am quite sure you will say you did it for “god”

            I am also quite sure you will reply spreading more of your inane $hit for brains crap and never once admit you are a convicted thief.

            Your turn you brain dead piece of worthless human skin!


          5. REV. JAMES G. BORDEN February 23, 2018 4:14 pm

            YAHWEH’S MINISTRY, HILO, HAWAII https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e2232a5a9da851c1d892e4dfe2cdc84cc506f56b35f9185a87e50a9548b4584.jpg


          6. Hilo Jack February 23, 2018 4:53 pm

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/271b80473516416f10d257056e2b57af6be801e5d0895e35c93a351a8bc493ef.jpg

            Here is convicted thief “THE REVEREND JAMES G BORDEN” Babbling out of his big fat mouth that doubles as his a$$hole!


          7. REV. JAMES G. BORDEN February 23, 2018 4:22 pm

            YAHWEH’S MINISTRY, HILO, HAWAII https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8a8715b624f1798e320c09074dea2eddf23cf9882b89cedf93b58bdcebe39dc6.jpg


          8. Hilo Jack February 23, 2018 6:33 pm

            I support a woman’s right to choose.

            Your claim to “Right to Life” is so full of bull$hit as well as the truth of the fake life you hide behind – a convicted thief – and a gun loving head up your fat a$$ ignorant piece of pure human $hit!

            Here – stick your “Right to Life” up your fat disgusting hypocritical ignorantly stupid pathetic useless worthless life:

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb2f703a2737d80b074f0b853602ae7277786f798362ba04fb39c45619f2e0d9.jpg


          9. Hilo Jack February 23, 2018 1:17 pm

            PS

            My name is Jack. And what you have as your picture is as descriptive as to what and who you are as mine is.


        2. Hilo Jack February 23, 2018 4:45 am

          PS. The fat worthless pig in Florida still is a fat worthless pig.


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