A suspect was taken into custody in Canada on suspicion of posting an anonymous tweet threatening a school shooting in Upper Merion on Friday that forced the entire suburban district to shut down, officials said Friday night.
The Upper Merion Police Department said the suspect was located in Montreal and was being questioned by Canadian authorities. The Police Department said it did not know whether the suspect, who was not further identified except as a male, had any connection to the Upper Merion Area School District or why he allegedly made the threat.
“We have no reason to believe that there is any active threat” against the school district, Upper Merion police said on its Facebook page. The FBI assisted with the investigation.
All six schools in the Montgomery County district were closed as a result of the threat, made late Thursday in response to an innocuous tweet about snow by superintendent John A. Toleno.
“I hope you know I’m coming to school tomorrow with a glock 18 and laying down as many kids as I can,” read the tweet, which has since been deleted, according to a screenshot of the conversation obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News.
The poster used an anonymous account, and Upper Merion police said they were not sure whether the tweet was posted by a student. By Friday afternoon, the Twitter account had been shut down and removed from the social media site.
Investigators were informed about 10:30 p.m. Thursday about a threat that appeared on Twitter that “referenced an individual coming to school tomorrow with a handgun to commit acts of violence,” police said in a statement.
The offending tweet was posted in response to a tweet by Toleno about whether schools would be closed Friday because of snow. “I do my best each and every time we get bad weather. #icare,” Toleno wrote.
The threat circulated quickly among students and parents in the community, prompting officials to close the schools Friday in a 5 a.m. announcement.
On Friday morning, Toleno said his decision to close the entire district of 4,100 students was made out of an abundance of caution. It was unclear, from the wording of the tweet, which schools were potentially being targeted.
“There was no way I could’ve possibly comforted parents in any way to say, ‘Oh, no, this is just a high school issue,’ ” Toleno said. “And that’s simply because we didn’t know.”