FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Possible threats of violence caused a major scare for Central Unified School District on Friday.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Central Unified sent out a message to parents that football games at Koligian Stadium on Friday and Saturday would be canceled. The message also said Central Unified East High School students would be dismissed at 12:30 p.m. out of an abundance of caution. It was an unusual scene with extra Fresno police officers supervising the early release.
Police and the school district said at a joint news conference Friday while no credible threat has been found, they were not taking any chances after concerning messages and posts were discovered Friday morning.
“Apparently, there were some rumors circulating, some text messages, things on social media that were brought to our attention that did make us aware and alert of possible threats,” said Chief Paco Balderrama with the Fresno Police Department.
This situation comes after a teenager was seriously injured in a shooting after the Central and Bullard High School football game last Friday. On Thursday, a 15-year-old boy was injured in a shooting in northwest Fresno. Chief Balderrama says officers are looking into possible connections to these shootings.
“A lot of times what happens on the streets, it is connected to chatter, rumors, and misinformation that may make its way into a school.”
Central Unified’s acting superintendent Ketti Davis says there was not any credible threat found – but that the decision to cancel the football games and release Central East early was the right thing to do.
“We wanted to make sure with the information we had at the given time, that we make decisions when we could to take care of our students and we believe that that’s what we did,” Davis said.
The situation at Central East also prompted members of Advance Peace, an organization aimed at reducing gun violence, to come help escort students off of campus.
“We just came to assist with getting the students out of the school because of our relationship with some of the students and some of the parents,” said Aaron Foster, a program director with Advance Peace. “We wanted to minimize the rumor mill.”
The Fresno Police department says they are still looking into who started the rumors; at this time it is unclear if the rumors originated from the students.