AFTER allegedly hearing a threat made against Orange school children by a 43-year-old man on Tuesday, a community centre staff member relayed the threat to an Orange school, which left police to deal with the panic which ensued.
At least one Orange school went in to lockdown on Thursday, which caused rumours about the threat to spread over the internet.
Canobolas Local Area Command Superintendent David Driver said the alleged threat “was not significant” and the man was known to police. They believed he did not have the means to carry out the threat.
That didn’t stop panic breaking out on social media on Thursday after parents heard parts of the story and started posting on social media sites incorrect details.
As a result police contacted the Department of Education and Communities which, in turn, contacted schools to inform them of the incident and that police would conduct extra patrols as a precaution.
“Significant resources were deployed to locate the man because police needed to allay the concerns of the community and police had concerns for the welfare of the man,” Superintendent Driver said.
The panic refused to die down. Police then released a statement on the Canobolas Local Area Command Facebook page which said police were searching for a 43-year-old man.
The post was shared 96 times and had over 150 comments, some in support of the actions of police and schools, while many were crying out for more information.
“Our response in respect to social media needs to be considered... we need to put public safety first but we don’t want to jeopardise any future investigations,” he said.
“There was no specific threat to any particular schools or children”
Police confirmed they had found the man by yesterday morning and he was sent for a mental health assessment.