SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and borough police detectives are investigating a series of phone calls and Instagram posts received by Somerville High School students over the weekend that threatened each of them with bodily harm.
“It’s an active investigation,” said Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.
Somerville Police Chief Dennis Manning confirmed that at least 3 or 4 Instagram posts of a threatening nature were also received by an unspecified number of female students.
“These were inappropriate Instagram posts that could be deemed as threatening in nature but not directed at any one person, group, or institution; a lot of cursing and inappropriate language,” Manning said.
Robertson said the phone calls were made to five students from a blocked phone number around 10:50 p.m. Saturday.
Robertson and Manning said the threats were not credible.
"We take everything serious and delve into it to make sure there is no threat," Manning said.
Parents received a message from the high school at 9:32 a.m. Monday with an explanation of the weekend's events. The message was also posted on the high school’s website:
“Please be advised that over the weekend the administration and the Somerville Police Department conducted an investigation regarding messages on social media posted by Somerville High School students.
The police were involved from the start and at no time was anyone in danger. Somerville Police Department has been onsite at Somerville High School throughout the morning to ensure continued safety and we are thankful for their thorough investigation.
“We plan to re-address the importance of responsible social media use with students shortly. In addition, we continue to encourage anyone who uncovers a potential threat against our students, staff, schools, and/or community to come forward and report their concerns. If you see something suspicious or concerning, please use the following guidelines to report it.
1. Take a screenshot of the message, including comments.
2. Note the platform used (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.)
3. Note the username of the account holder who posted it as well as anyone who commented on the post.
4. Immediately report the information gathered above to the police and then immediately contact the school principal.
5. Do not share the post with your followers as additional posts may complicate the investigation.
Soon after the school day began, rumors and unfounded information began to circulate, with concerned parents making phone calls to the school, as well as several others who arrived at the front lobby to pull their children out of the school, according to Manning, who spent several hours at the school Monday morning along with patrol officers.
“We went up there to help them, there were a lot of upset parents coming to the school and we felt it would be helpful to have a couple of police officers there,” he said.