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NBC 10 I-Team: Viral social media post prompts school scare

A social media scare about a school shooting threat happened across the country -- yet students and parents in Southern New England were frightened.

A social media scare about a school shooting threat happened across the country -- yet students and parents in Southern New England were frightened.

The reason was viral post from a teenager in Clovis, New Mexico that included a photo of the 17-year-old boy holding as assault rifle with the caption “going out with a bang” and the initials “CHS,” referring to Clovis High School.

Police in New Mexico arrested the boy late last week, charging him with aggravated assault on a school official.

But even after the boy’s arrest, the post was shared -- without context -- across social media platforms, leading to fear that the “CHS” might refer to local schools. Parents at Chariho High School in Rhode Island called local police about the post, prompting Chariho’s school district to reassure parents via Twitter.

“The police have investigated this. There is no threat directed at Chariho,” the school district tweeted late Sunday evening.

NBC 10 found at least 25 schools with the initials CHS in the U.S. and Canada that were on alert after the post went viral. Some even shut down as a precaution, although local schools remained open Monday. Several school officials also reached out to Rhode Island State Police to confirm there was no actual threat to local schools.

Rhode Island State Police Captain Derek Borek is an expert in school shooting prevention.

"Social media threats do grow very quickly,” Borek told NBC 10.

Even so, he said students who showed the post to their parents, who then called local police. was “the right thing for them to do.”

“I would ask parents to monitor their children's social media if they can,” Borek said. “But also have a good relationship with their kids, that if they see a threat they share that with their parent, who contracts law enforcement so we can investigate these."

As far as advice for students and parents, Borek said “see something, say something” is still the best policy to follow.

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