It was all about a video game, but a simple misunderstanding put a whole school on high alert.
In the days leading up to December 7th, gamers around the world were feverishly awaiting the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but one eager Ohio student's excitement for the game almost caused a panic about a possible school shooting.
In late November a student at East Clinton High School in Sabina, Ohio, anticipating the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, wrote a message on a whiteboard that included a drawing of the game's logo.
"Dec. 7th Time to [Smash Bros. logo]" it read.
The student's message.Clinton County Sheriff's Office/Incident Report
Fans of the game would understand the reference, but after the logo appeared on the whiteboard two days in a row four female students unfamiliar with the franchise misinterpreted it as a threat.
The four girls approached the school's principal, Kerri Matheny, who spoke to the student in question. He explained the symbol and said he "did not mean to cause an alarm." After Matheny explained it to the four girls, she thought the issue was resolved.
According to a sheriff's report obtained by Buzzfeed, rumors began to spread. Then the rumors "turned into all the students telling each other that [redacted] said on December 7, 2018, that he would shoot up the school."
The rumors eventually made it to district superintendent Eric Magee who reached out to the high school's resource officer, David Boris, to ask about an email he received saying "some student was threatening to shoot the school."
Boris interviewed the student and came to the same conclusion as Matheny. "He know[s] everyone thinks he [is] weird," Boris said according to the incident report. "But he would never hurt anyone."
So on Wednesday, Magee sent out a letter to students and parents assuring them that the "threat is nothing more than a rumor."
"The statement on the board was merely a statement of anticipation for the release of this new video game," Magee wrote.
The letter was later posted to Twitter and has since gone viral.
this is a real document sent out to everyone that attends my school https://t.co/VTWFbMeQXF— fungus amongus (@fungus amongus) 1544041880.0
The threat of a school shooting is obviously no laughing matter, but people could not help finding the absurd misunderstanding a little bit funny.
@nuzfungus @Aru762mmR this shouldnt be this funny— 2GGジョーカー🃏 (@2GGジョーカー🃏) 1544066541.0
@nuzfungus @raubahnaldynn they did the right thing, but it's still fucking hilarious— becky lemme smash (@becky lemme smash) 1544073470.0
@nuzfungus All things considered, good on them for taking it seriously At the same time, fuckin L O L— Jack Witty (@Jack Witty) 1544130356.0
But to others, it was a sad reminder of how bad things have gotten.
@nuzfungus @Fluffs_Ro_Dah This could only, ONLY, happen in America. Where school shootings are, apparently, just as… https://t.co/zANvtR9VJ4— Gaydō (@Gaydō) 1544135034.0
@nuzfungus This is so sad. I don't blame everyone for being on edge given the amount of school shootings we've had… https://t.co/VWPfzJqXw4— Emily🔜GrassLAN (@Emily🔜GrassLAN) 1544138401.0
@nuzfungus It's funny but at the same time it's actually really serious and sad.— Retro Plus (@Retro Plus) 1544078583.0
@nuzfungus With the world today this reaction is understandable. While many would identify that as a smash logo ot… https://t.co/f9oQTWEYGD— 🥕🎄❄️𝓟𝓸𝓶𝓛𝓪𝓶𝓫𝓼𝓒𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓸𝓽𝓢𝓱𝓸𝓹♂🐑🎄🌨️ (@🥕🎄❄️𝓟𝓸𝓶𝓛𝓪𝓶𝓫𝓼𝓒𝓪𝓻𝓻𝓸𝓽𝓢𝓱𝓸𝓹♂🐑🎄🌨️) 1544090016.0
Still, everyone was glad the school did the right thing and handled the matter responsibly.
@nuzfungus @MouseybeLurkin Good on the school for taking initiative and doing research. And, of course, for not say… https://t.co/NE3uHi2d7y— Keet (@Keet) 1544634902.0
@nuzfungus @imrustyokay I'm glad the school took some time to investigate all possibilities before sending the lett… https://t.co/66RlggND1C— 🎂 17 days till birthday 🎉 (@🎂 17 days till birthday 🎉) 1544155042.0
@nuzfungus I was ready for this to end with some "this is a possible gang initiation symbol" or something thank God… https://t.co/5odSEOozei— Bri (@Bri) 1544078649.0
@nuzfungus @snacks_fruity this is actually very responsible from the school holy shit— gabey.babeyyyy🌻 (@gabey.babeyyyy🌻) 1544075897.0
Fortunately, in the end, the only tragedy seems to be that there are people out there who aren't familiar with Super Smash Bros. You can buy it here now.
@nuzfungus The biggest problem is that some people don't know what the Smash logo is.— The Crimson Hat (@The Crimson Hat) 1544090935.0