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Western Alert sent for threat to Michigan school

Updated at 6:20 p.m. Monday, March 19 with further information from the university.

The university sent a Western Alert after University Police found out authorities are investigating a shooting threat made toward a school in Michigan that has “Western” in its name, according to the alert.

The Western Alert was sent around 4 p.m. on Monday, March 19 telling students that University Police have communicated with police in Detroit, Michigan and do not believe there is any connection to Western Washington University.

The threat was made over social media, according to the alert.

“University officials and University Police became aware of some alarm in the university community about a possible shooter at ‘Western’ on social media,” Western’s Communications and Marketing Director Paul Cocke said in an email.

Cocke said the university discovered the post was referring to a Michigan school and sent out a Western Alert “to counter any misinformation or anxiety on campus.”

Cocke said this situation is not similar to other cases of vague shooting threats being made on social media, which have impacted local school districts.

Bellingham Police Department posted about one in February that had “SHS” in it and circulated through a number of states. The department said there was no indication it was aimed at Sehome High school, but did alert Bellingham School District.

Also in February, Blaine School District announced it would close school after being emailed about a threat toward “BHS.” This was later found to be a hoax, and the person who forwarded the threat to Blaine School District turned out to be a concerned parent trying to contact a school in Blaine, Minnesota, the Bellingham Herald reported.

“What we are learning is that there are multiple threats of a similar, if not identical, context surfacing in other areas of the State, as well as nationally, in the last 24 hours,” the Blaine School District’s website said on Feb. 23.

Western is currently examining its active shooter preparedness. A committee on classroom safety had their first meeting last week.

Western Alerts are written by Western’s Office of Communications in coordination with University Police.

Western asks students to call 360-650-SAFE (7233) if they are concerned someone poses a threat to themselves or others, or to contact University Police at 360-650-3911.

For mental health support, the Counseling Center can be called at 360-650-3164.

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