POPE COUNTY (WSIL) — Nearly a hundred students missed school Monday after one student found an anonymous Snapchat that warned them not to go to school.
"Don’t come to school Monday. Check the news that day to see why," said Sheriff Jerry Suits as he read the threatening message.
The anonymous message prompted a Pope County teen to alert the school and the police. Sheriff Jerry Suits says, immediately deputies jumped into action and began making plans. Including plans to have a deputy inside the schools all day.
"If there is any good thing about this note, it says ‘Monday’," said Suits.
School officials and Sheriff Suits found out about the message on Saturday, so they spent the weekend securing the school and notifying parents.
Suits contacted the Illinois State Police who were able to trace the IP address to a 14 year-old girl in Vienna.
"She told us, after a little discussion, that ‘I did it. It was a joke,’" said Suits.
Pope County Schools Assistant Superintendent Ryan Fritch says, although police tracked the threat to the girl, nearly 20 percent of their students were still absent Monday.
He says it’s scary for parents because this is the second time a threat has been made this year.
"We had one in February of this year and we missed about 80 kids that day. Today, (Monday) we have a little under 100 that are absent as well," said Fritch.
Fritch says just because an app the teen used to send the snap claims to keep you anonymous, doesn’t mean you can’t be found.
"That digital trail is always there," said Fritch.
Suits says he’s now working with the State’s Attorney on how to move forward.
"He will review it. There is possible criminal charges that are going to be filed," said Suits.
On Monday, to provide extra security , only one entrance was used at both Pope County schools. Police and school officials were also watching the parking lot for any suspicious or unrecognized cars.