Omaha police and some metro school districts are dealing with an uptick in school threats this school year.
Though none have materialized in the metro area, police say rumored threats often originate on social media and spread like wildfire from around the country to local schools.
“Several of them have occurred in other states on social media like Snapchat or Instagram and made it all the way up to Omaha,” said Omaha Police Sgt. James Shade. “I don’t recall seeing that before — where there’s a specific school threat in a specific city but it spreads so far on social media, and people are assuming it’s real.”
Omaha police didn’t provide the number of reports they have received this school year, noting that there are often dozens of duplicate reports for a single threat, said Lt. Neal Bonacci of the Omaha Police Department.
National reports of rumored shootings and bomb threats are shared through social media, such as the most recent TikTok challenge for a “school shooting day” on Dec. 17.
The challenge included vague, anonymous posts warning that multiple schools would receive shooting and bomb threats.
Shade said the problem that Omaha is seeing is occurring around the U.S. In October, for example, a social media post threatening a school shooting at Central High School in St. Joseph, Missouri, made its way to Omaha, with people raising concern about Central High School in downtown Omaha. Omaha police received more than 50 calls about it.
The Omaha school district didn’t provide figures on how many threats have been reported in the district.
“We take all reports of concerning behavior seriously and investigate immediately,” Bridget Blevins, Omaha Public Schools spokeswoman, said in a statement.
Millard Public Schools also have received a few reports of threats nationally that are spreading on social media, said Rebecca Kleeman, district spokeswoman. Administrators usually send messages to families to keep them informed, she said.
When Omaha police receive a report of a rumored threat, the department works with schools and other agencies to determine if it’s credible, said Lt. Charles Ott, who oversees the city’s school resource officers.
If Omaha police believe a threat came from outside of Nebraska, officials communicate with agencies in other states to confirm where it originated, Ott said.
When officials are investigating a rumored threat that might have been made in Omaha, district administrators and school resource officers are contacted to identify any students who could be responsible.
The threat might be dealt with by the school instead of law enforcement, depending on its severity, Bonacci said.
Despite the rise in national threats, Bonacci said that the majority still involve comments made by local students, either in person or on social media.
Bonacci said some are not actual threats but offhand comments or rumors. While the department tries to take every report seriously, sometimes it can be like “playing telephone,” he said.
Some of the threats result in citations or arrests.
On Dec. 9, OPS parent Charlotte LaZette Young received a text message from her daughter, who attends Monroe Middle School, saying, “Mom, I’m scared” after a potential shooter threat was reported at the school, 5105 Bedford Ave.
Omaha police determined the threat wasn’t credible and cited a Monroe student on suspicion of disorderly conduct, Bonacci said.
Young said she kept her children home that day and some days the following week when national threats were being reported.
Rumored and alleged threats don’t always originate from students.
A Council Bluffs high school math teacher is
accused of writing four anonymous notes threatening a shooting this school year. Several notes that were found at Abraham Lincoln High School over a two-week period referenced committing gun violence, police said.
Shade said as reports of these threats pop up in Omaha, he’s surprised by how many times they have been shared before someone notifies police or school administration.
“If you see something like that, it shouldn’t be forwarded to your friends or a group — the entire school could be in danger,” he said.
Omaha police ask anyone who knows about threats specific to the Omaha area to call 911 immediately.
Anonymous reporting is also available through the Safe2HelpNE hotline at (531) 299-SAFE, at
www.Safe2helpNE.org or through the Safe2Help mobile app. Reports can be received at any hour of the day.
Our best Omaha staff photos & videos from 2021
Fog begins to lift as the downtown Omaha skyline starts to appear as viewed from the Lincoln Monument in Council Bluffs on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
Jody Weible sits for a photo in her home near Mead, Neb., on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The waste left over from processing ethanol is in piles outside the AltEn Ethanol plant near Mead. The heaps are causing a strong odor in the area and leaving people and pets sick, she and other residents say.
UNO's Claire Killian, left, tries to keep South Dakota State's Regan Nesheim from passing the ball late in the game at Baxter Arena on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.
Willie Strickland, 26, of Omaha, walks in the middle of 38th Street to avoid walking through snow on unshoveled sidewalks in Omaha on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. At least a half-foot of snow is expected in the Omaha metro on Monday.
Juan Lentz pauses while walking north on 42nd Street toward Leavenworth Street during a winter storm warning on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Lentz estimated he had gone about four miles of his five-mile walk. He normally takes the bus, but the winter weather canceled bus service, so he had to walk home.
Dave Cornell of Christensen Excavating Co. walks past snow being cleared off the roof of the Omaha Park Two parking garage located at 1313 Harney St. on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Christensen Excavating Co. was hired to clear the garage. The city of Omaha is still digging out from about 12 inches of snow on Monday.
Large chunks of ice flow along with the Missouri River on Sunday in Omaha. Record-setting cold is possible to start the week.
Lincoln Southeast's Katerina Hoffman competes Thursday in the NSAA state diving championship.
From left, Omaha's Chris Esposito, Harrison Denk and Jack Lombardi roam the outfield against Creighton on Friday.
Omaha's Chris Esposito slams into the right field wall after missing a catch in the Creighton vs. Omaha baseball game, UNO's home opener at Tal Anderson Field on Friday. Creighton won the game 10-3.
Weeping Water's Jamison Twoney reacts with teammates after defeating Pleasanton in the Class D1 championship game.
Military personnel clean the cockpit window of a E-4B Nightwatch aircraft before it takes off at the Lincoln Airport on Thursday. Runway renovations have forced the planes to move out of Offutt Air Force Base.
O'Neill St. Mary players wait to be introduced before the start of the O’Neill St. Mary’s vs. Lincoln Parkview NSAA Class D2 state semifinal game in Lincoln on Thursday. Lincoln Parkview won the game 62-53.
2021 All-Nebraska selection Hunter Sallis of Millard North poses for a portrait at the school on Monday.
Omaha South goalkeeper Rodolfo Ramirez Sandoval is carried by fans following the Omaha South vs. Lincoln Southwest state championship Class A boys soccer game at Creighton University on Tuesday. Omaha South won the game 3-2 in a shootout.
Creighton's Nolan Clifford goes after a hard-hit ball by Xavier that knocked off his glove during their game on Saturday in Omaha.
A thunderstorm billows north of Omaha on Tuesday.
From left, Kayla Graff, Kelly Tate, Kennedy Tate and Elizabeth Runneberg, all of Laurens, Iowa, cheer on swimmers Monday during wave two of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha.
Community leader and activist Preston Love Jr. speaks after a year of protests in Omaha. Photographed at Hardy Coffee Co. in the Highlander in Omaha on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
Nebraska's Spencer Schwellenbach jumps in the air to congratulate Luke Roskam after a home run against Arkansas during their NCAA regional game on Monday in Fayetteville.
Daniel Carr limbers up before the start of the 200 meter backstroke final on Friday during wave two of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha.
Ryan Lochte waves to the crowd as he swam his last race, the 200 individual medley, during wave two of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trails at the CHI Health Center on Friday.
Mississippi State's Will Bednar started the game against Texas during Day Two of the College World Series on Sunday.
Texas fans Kayne Hassler and Brody Hassler sport unique looks before the Longhorns’ game against Mississippi State on Sunday in Omaha.
Mississippi State's Tanner Allen drills a three-run home run to take the lead over Virginia during a College World Series game on Tuesday.
U.S Air Force members carry a casket during the Honorable Carry ceremony on Thursday at the Lincoln Airport.
A rainbow hangs over TD Ameritrade Park during a weather delay Thursday before the start of the Texas vs. Virginia College World Series baseball elimination game in Omaha.
Lightning strikes east of TD Ameritrade Park on Thursday during a rain delay before a College World Series game between Texas and Virginia.
North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent wipes his head in the Wolfpack dugout as a College World Series is delayed due to health and safety protocols.
The sun crawls toward the horizon over TD Ameritrade Park during a College World Series game on Friday.
Mississippi State's Rowdey Jordan greets fans on Wednesday after winning a national championship over Vanderbilt at the College World Series.
Members of Omaha Parliament wave flags ahead of Union Omaha's match against Chattanooga SC on Saturday.
The top of a structure blew off of 2602 O St. in Omaha after a storm blew threw overnight and caused widespread power outages on Saturday.
Courtony Hudson, 42, of Omaha, gets his hair cut by Mark Nelson, the owner of Another Level Barbershop, outside the shop during a power outage after a severe thunderstorm overnight. Photographed at 64th and Maple Streets in Omaha on Saturday.
Jim Furyk makes his way up the 16th fairway Sunday during the final round of the U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club.
Omaha Northwest and Omaha Bryan played the first game on Thursday for Omaha Public Schools since 2019 after last season was canceled because of the pandemic.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez gets hit by Illinois' Keith Randolph Jr. and fumbles the ball in the first half of Saturday's Illinois vs. Nebraska football game at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
Nebraska's Lexi Sun stretches before the start of the Nebraska vs. Creighton volleyball match on Wednesday at the CHI Health Center in Omaha. The Huskers won in three sets.
People pay their respects during the procession for Marine Cpl. Daegan Page outside Braman Mortuary in southwest Omaha on Friday. Cpl. Page, along with 12 other American servicemen and women, was killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan on Aug. 26.
Nebraska's Adrian Martinez runs for a first down past Buffalo's James Patterson on Saturday during their game, which the Huskers won 28-3.
A child from Afghanistan pauses after arriving at Eppley Airfield in Omaha on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.
Kendall Coley is introduced during the Husker Hoops Opening Night celebration on Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Nebraska head coach Scott Frost smiles as his team celebrates a touchdown late in the second quarter against Northwestern on Saturday.
Omaha's Davis Pennington collides with Maine's Nolan Renwick during the third period of their game on Friday at Baxter Arena in Omaha.
Fans take in the scene during a light show before the fourth quarter of the Nebraska-Michigan game on Saturday in Lincoln.
Nebraska fans reach out their hands for high-fives as Nebraska's Austin Allen walks onto the field before the game against Minnesota on Saturday in Minneapolis.
Jen Ellis, 39, walks through the remaining belongings and trash in a homeless encampment north of downtown where she used to live. Omaha police started moving people out of the camp, which is on Union Pacific property, in late September. Ellis is unsure how many people will return. Photographed on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.
Pedestrians cross Farnam Street at 15th Street in the rain on Wednesday morning.
Omaha's Kaden Bohlsen jumps into Tyler Weiss's arms after Weiss scored his first goal of the season in the third period during their game against Long Island on Friday at Baxter Arena in Omaha.
Cornhusker Marching Band and color guard members watch U.S. Air Force members skydive into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
Purdue's Chris Jefferson grabs the ball intended for Nebraska's Austin Allen as Purdue's Kieren Douglas closes in during Saturday's Purdue vs. Nebraska football game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. Purdue won the game 28-23.
Omaha's Taylor Ward scores past Lake Superior State's Ethan Langenegger during their game on Sunday at Baxter Arena.
Nebraska's Luke Reimer celebrates after breaking up a pass to Ohio State's Jeremy Ruckert during the first half of the game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska's Cam Taylor-Britt breaks up a pass to Ohio State's Chris Olave during the first half of their game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Western Illinois's Jadrian Flores and Nebraska's Alonzo Verge Jr. react to a call during their game Tuesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Doug Kirby recalls his service during the Vietnam War, when he was severely injured. Rick Wilcox helped to save Kirby's life in Vietnam in 1970 and they just met Monday for the first time since then.
Creighton's Arthur Kaluma tries to get past Kennesaw State's Nate Springs during their game Thursday at CHI Health Center in Omaha.
Nebraska's Kayla Caffey and Anni Evans watch a pregame video before a game against Penn State on Friday at the Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.
Bennington's Luke Macdonald celebrates with fans after his team defeated Aurora on Monday in the Class B state title game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
A sparrow forages in a tree in the Old Market on Tuesday. The forecast for the next several days in the Omaha area calls for dry conditions with highs ranging from the mid-30s to the upper 50s.
Porsha Clayborne, a cook at the Siena Francis House, puts trays of food in an oven before dinner service. Puerto Rican chef Elie Berchal and other local professional chefs are coming into the shelter each week to teach the kitchen staff how to prepare more varied meals. Photographed in Omaha on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.
Iowa's Kyler Fisher celebrates after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the Nebraska-Iowa game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Nebraska's William Przystup reacts after his blocked punt was returned for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of Saturday's game against Iowa at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Nebraska's Jaquez Yant dives into the end zone for a touchdown against Iowa during their game on Friday in Lincoln.
Nebraska's Cam Taylor-Britt walks off the field Saturday with Jaxon Edwards, left, and Peyton Edwards at the end of his final game at Memorial Stadium.
Workers tend to a glass skylight on the Burlington Capital building on Thursday in downtown Omaha.
From left: Gretna's Skylar McCune, Omaha Skutt Abby Schomers, Lincoln Southwest Shaylee Myers, Papillion-La Vista South's Ava LeGrand, Waverly's Bekka Allick, Elkhorn South' Kylie Weeks and Omaha Westside's Destiny Ndam-Simpson pose for a portrait inside the Owen Sea Lion Shores exhibit at the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday. They are the 2021 All-Nebraska volleyball team. Behind them, a sea lion named Chino is investigating a volleyball.
Nebraska's Alonzo Verge Jr. tries to get past Michigan's Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin to score during the second half of their game on Wednesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Nebraska's Bryce McGowens waits for his name to be announced before the Wednesday game against Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Nebraska's Keisei Tominaga celebrates his 3-pointer during the game against Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Wednesday.
Nebraska's Alonzo Verge Jr. during the second half of Wednesday's game against Michigan at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
A light tower on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian is dark on Tuesday in Omaha. The light towers are off after a vandal damaged them.
The sunrise is reflected i the window of the The Grove Juicery, located at 2401 Farnam St. on Friday.
Insulation from a neighbor's damaged roof is stuck in a tree in Matt Thiele's yard after a storm hit Beaver Lake. Photographed on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.
Wisconsin's Jade Demps celebrates a point during the national semifinal game against Louisville on Thursday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Wisconsin players celebrate a point during their national semifinal game against Louisville on Thursday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Nebraska players celebrate after defeating Pittsburgh in their national semifinal game on Thursday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Nebraska players celebrate after they defeated Pittsburgh in their national semifinal game Thursday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Nebraska's Nicklin Hames dives for the ball during the national championship match against Wisconsin on Saturday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Nebraska's Lauren Stivrins celebrates a point during the national championship match on Saturday against Wisconsin at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Nebraska players react after a long volley to win Set 4 during the national championship match against Wisconsin on Saturday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Nebraska's Kennedi Orr (left) and Anni Evans celebrate during the national championship match against Wisconsin on Saturday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Schuyler's Maddy Pineda competes against Amherst's Michaela Bivainis in the 114 weight class during the Winnebago All Girls Wrestling Invite at Winnebago High School in Winnebago on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.