MANATEE — The person who wrote “shoot-out on Valentine’s Day” on a bathroom wall at Bayshore High School on Wednesday has been identified by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who now feel quite sure the writing was a prank or hoax.
But the biggest problem now is that the incident has taken on a life of its own on the Internet, leaving school and law enforcement officials trying to douse the flames of rumors that have been sparked.
“You always take these things seriously,” said sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow, who added that investigators don’t think the incident involves any other school in Manatee County. “We are working it very hard.”
Since Wednesday when the pen scribbling was found in a girl’s bathroom, those involved have been disciplined and additional deputies have been present at Bayshore High, said Margi Nanney, a spokeswoman for the school district.
“Some people have put this up on social media sites,” Nanney said. “We have identified where these communications came from and we have taken the appropriate disciplinary action. The social media tends to spread it and exaggerate it and scare more people than necessary. I think law enforcement has deemed that this is a prank or hoax.”
“We are working Facebook,” Bristow said."
Bayshore High received numerous calls from parents on Friday as a mild hysteria seemed to set in.
“We’ve been taking calls for the past couple of days,” Nanney said. “If I could address the parents I would say, ‘Send your child to school Monday. Please feel comfortable doing that. We are taking every precaution.’"
The sheriff’s office will send extra deputies to the school Monday, Bristow said.