Police chief confirms a former Crookston student, a male juvenile, was located in Grand Forks County after posting a Snapchat video that triggered a soft lockdown in the public schools Thursday morning.
Crookston Police Chief Paul Biermaier tells the Times that local law enforcement are essentially in a “holding pattern” awaiting word from Grand Forks County authorities after a video reportedly posted by a former Crookston student on Snapchat spurred a “soft lockdown” at Crookston Public Schools Thursday morning. The soft lockdown, announced by Superintendent Jeremy Olson via electronic instant alert message, was subsequently lifted at approximately 9:30 Thursday morning after an investigation determined there was no threat to Crookston schools.
“I’m not even sure if we have a crime here,” Biermaier told the Times. “And if we do, it’s a North Dakota thing so it would be up to them for the most part.”
During a soft lockdown, classes in school continue as scheduled, but classroom doors are closed and hall passes are limited, Olson explained in his message to school district subscribers to the instant alert message system. Local law enforcement for a time Thursday morning were also present at all three public school buildings.
Biermaier confirmed that the male who posted the video is a juvenile. Asked if he was located by law enforcement in Grand Forks, Biermaier confirmed that he was located in Grand Forks County.
Speaking to the Times early Thursday afternoon, Olson confirmed the male juvenile was a former Crookston student, but that he had not attended school in Crookston during the current school year. Olson said the video was brought to the attention of school administration at CHS shortly before classes began Thursday and "we went into reaction mode to confirm absolutely that there was no threat to any students or any of our schools."
Olson said he doesn't want to call the response to the video an "overreaction." Instead, he said, "We erred on the side of the safety of our schools, students and staff."
The word “school” is never mentioned in the video, the CPD chief noted, and no one is threatened. But once more people were able to lay eyes on the video as it was repeatedly shared, he said a parent eventually saw it and alerted Crookston school officials. Out of “an abundance of caution” law enforcement looked into the matter as if there was any possibility that an actual, credible threat existed, Biermaier added.
A Snapchat video was shared with the Times Thursday, the contents of which were described by the Times to both Biermaier and Olson. Citing the active investigation, neither would confirm it was the video that spurred Thursday's reaction and investigation. In the video sent to the Times, a firearm is seen, but no threat is ever made to any school or individual.