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School massacre threat hoaxer ‘confesses’ on regional daily’s website

A hoaxer claiming responsibility for threats to carry out a High School “massacre” has posted an apparent confession on a regional daily’s website.

The supposed confession and apology was published on The Gazette, Blackpool’s website after the newspaper reported how more than 1,000 pupils had stayed away from the resort’s Montgomery High School on Monday after a threat to leave a trail of “bullets, bodies, and blood” was made on Facebook over the weekend.

Although Lancashire Police described the threats as “non-credible” from the now-deleted social networking site account, thought to have been created under a pseudonym, officers stood guard outside the school as a precaution, as reported by the Gazette on Monday.

The commenter on The Gazette’s website, posting under the name of ‘The Real John Smith’, claimed to be the person responsible, admitting their actions had been “incredibly stupid”.

Blackpool school

The user said they were a 15-year-old pupil at the school, who had been subjected to bullying there for around two years.

However, there is no evidence at present suggesting that this is the case.

The commenter posted: “I only wanted to scare the bullies, and make the teachers wake up. I did NOT want attention, I did NOT want news coverage. This whole thing was a gigantic mistake and I’m incredibly sorry for my actions.

“The bullies have honestly made me consider suicide in the past, but I’m hanging on for now. I really feel like this could push me over the edge if I have to do police interviews and get plastered over the news as a terrorist and potentially get arrested.

“I seriously can’t handle that so please just consider this from a 15 year olds [sic] point of view that’s getting bullied. I know that’s no excuse, but it’s too late to undo the damage.”

Gazette reporter Michael Holmes, who lives near the school, broke the initial story and worked through his weekend off in order to get the above splash on Monday.

The full apparent confession and apology was posted on The Gazette’s website yesterday morning, under the headline “Is this the ‘Monty Massacre’ suspect confessing?”

Lancashire Police has requested the poster’s details from The Gazette, and the paper is now liaising with the force in support of the investigation.

Gazette deputy editor Andy Sykes said: “This is another example of a Facebook story instantly going viral.

“Members of the public are coming to our website and newspaper to seek credible and rational reporting of an issue which has caused a lot of anxiety and upset among parents and children.

“It is worth stressing at this point that there is still no suggestion that the perpetrator is a bullied child or the posting is from the person responsible but it adds yet another element to the police investigation. Police are continuing to try to trace those behind this threat.”

9 comments

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  • January 6, 2016 at 10:01 am
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    True to say it could have been anyone but in what universe could the paper ignore this?

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  • January 6, 2016 at 11:10 am
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    Unfortunately, banner headlines on these stories only give those responsible for such idiocy the attention they crave. Schools are increasingly plagued by these people but often parents can be quietly sent a text about precautions without the whole thing becoming a media frenzy.

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  • January 6, 2016 at 11:39 am
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    Some interesting issues raised here.
    There’s no doubt that a school being closed and having a police guard because of a death threat is news.

    Because of social media this will have been circulated regardless of what established media channels had done so again this should be reported responsibly.

    But the police say the threats, delivered via Facebook were non-credible and now an anonymous (surprise, surprise) ‘teenager’ apparently confesses and apologises on the web.

    Is it enough for a paper to publish anything and then say to readers ‘make up your own minds if it is genuine’? In the olden days papers had odd letters from the deranged all the time and almost all would be binned and sometimes a few passed to the police.

    Now those same disturbed thoughts appear on Facebook, Twitter et al and they are imbued, sometimes without question, with a quasi-veracity. Gazette deputy editor Andy Sykes hits the nail on the head when he said: “This is another example of a Facebook story instantly going viral.”
    Journalists should examine their role in this, especially within an industry heading towards clicks, hits and likes as the measure of what is or isn’t a ‘story’

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  • January 6, 2016 at 12:22 pm
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    I’ve always said that writing for publication is the most dangerous occupation outside the armed forces.
    More than 100 journalists are murdered worldwide every year for writing stuff that others consider unacceptable.
    Many more live under the threat of ruinous libel suits, and still more are threatened, victimised and, in some cases, terrorised.
    Scores of journalists lie in Third World jails for telling the inconvenient truth.They are the first casualties of tyranny.
    Traditionally, journalists have fully understood the awesome power at their disposal, and have been trained to balance their editorial responsibilities with the possible consequences of their work.
    Now social media has handed this power to rank amateurs, many of them irresponsible agitators, who have no understanding of the damage words can cause when the ‘Send’ button is pressed.
    Facebook and Twitter make ‘publishers’ of everyone, even dumbheads and ghouls who see words as weapons against those who have done them wrong.
    It is a frightening development which has already wrecked thousands of careers and led to arrests and suicides of people who simply did not understand the destructive power made available to them.
    It’s like handing a box of fireworks and a can of kerosene to toddlers and saying: ‘Have a lovely time.’
    Pure idiocy.

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  • January 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm
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    It’s the confession I take issue with.
    How on earth can it be deemed credible?
    At least the IRA had code-words.

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  • January 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm
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    And yet the would-be London bomber jailed last week had asked for suggestions of targets via Twitter. Was that ‘non-credible’?

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  • January 6, 2016 at 3:45 pm
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    Would have been better for the paper to do a proper investigation itself to establish whether the confession was real and then run the story as fact rather than a question.

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  • January 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm
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    Dave, the decision to publish it was taken after police confirmed it was a credible line of inquiry.

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