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Real Consequences of Hoax Threats, FBI says

The FBI and local law enforcement launch #ThinkBeforeYouPost to deter hoax threats
An FBI agent walks across the street from the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (Photo: David Goldman, AP)

BRYAN, Texas —

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Bryan Resident Agency and local law enforcement hosted a news conference on Sept. 5 to launch #ThinkBeforeYou Post, a public awareness campaign designed to educate the public about the consequences of making hoax threats to schools and other public places. 

Within the last month in the Houston area, the FBI has responded to 20 school hoax threats, according to Edward Michel, the assistant special agent in charge with the Houston FBI. Out of these 20 threats, five have occurred in the Bryan/College Station area.

Despite a person not following through with the threat, the law enforcement wanted to emphasize that there are major consequences to these threats. 

“Although a vast majority of threats are hoaxes, the consequences for individuals who make these threats are real,” said Michel. “Hoax threats are not a joke and if you make these threats you will be held accountable.”

These consequences can be life ruining. A video shown during the news conference showed a college student who jokingly posted a threat and was subsequently arrested by the FBI. According to Bryan police chief, Eric Buske, anyone who makes a threat can be prosecuted and face criminal charges, or at the very least, consequences at school. 

The FBI and local law enforcement provided guidance on what to do if someone overhears or sees a threat posted online. They stressed the importance of not sharing or retweeting any threats posted on social media, it can cause panic and confusion. If you see or hear a threat notify law enforcement immediately.

“We need the public’s help, we need parents' help, and we need teachers’ help,” said Michel.

Law enforcement agencies are hoping that by spreading awareness that hoax threats have real consequences, and informing the public on how to report these threats, they can push back on this threat epidemic.

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