Police Search Student’s Home After Square Root Symbol Reported As Terrorist Threat
A student completed a math problem, drawing the square-root sign, and was reported to the police for terroristic threat because of a comment that it looked like a gun.
A discussion among students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, La., about the mathematical symbol led to a police investigation and a search of one of the student’s homes, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office.
On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school. They learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign.
Really? Someone thought about pursuing terrorist threat criminal charges because he said a radical (square root) sign LOOKED LIKE a gun?
…meanwhile, your next school shooter is thought of as a law-abiding gun owner right now.https://t.co/RdDyk0B0ds
— Andy Jakcsy (@IlGreven) February 22, 2018
Students in the group began commenting that the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by itself equals another number, looked like a gun.
After several students made comments along those lines, another student said something the sheriff’s office said could have sounded like a threat out of context.
Police searched the student’s home. They found no guns or any evidence that he had any access to guns. Authorities wrote there was no evidence the student had any intent to commit harm.
“The student used extremely poor judgment in making the comment. In light of the actual circumstances, there was clearly no evidence to support criminal charges,” the department wrote. They added that the school board had been contacted to determine any disciplinary action for the student.
Disciplinary action has not yet been take against the student that made the comment. It will be determined by the Allen Parish School Board.
According to new polices set by the school board, any student accused of talking about guns or school shootings will be investigated by three entities: the school board, the sheriff’s department, and the district attorney’s office.
A post on the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office Facebook page said the student “used extremely poor judgment in making the comment,” KATC reported. “But in light of the actual circumstances, there was clearly no evidence to support criminal charges.”
The student was not arrested or charged, but under a new policy enacted by the local school board, he remains banned from the school property and faces expulsion.
Allen Parish School District Superintendent Michael Doucet said students were working together on a math problem when “a student made a math symbol of a square root sign, which kind of looks like a pistol.
“And he was helping a weaker student, and the student says, ‘Well, that looks like a pistol!’ And he just made a comment [like] ‘let’s just get to work before I shoot you with a pistol.’”
Under the new policy, students accused of talking about guns or school shootings will be investigated by the school board. It will be turned over to the sheriff’s department, and the district attorney’s office.
“The first thing we’re going to do is remove that student from the premises with proper authority. Then, we’re going to have a home visit done by detectives of the sheriff’s department. If no charges are filed, we’re going to conduct a threat assessment on the student,” Doucet said.
Many school and law enforcement officials are on high alert after Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire with an AR-15 assault-style rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week. Seventeen students and teachers were killed.
This came a week after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day, killing 17 people and wounding 14 more.
The mass shooting sparked a wave of reported threats against other schools across the country. These threats that are still coming in by the day and have set local parents, students and emergency officials on high alert.
Still, many on social media thought the reaction to the ‘threat’ in Oberlin was more than a little overblown.
‘Is this what things have come to??’ one user tweeted.
‘Really? Someone thought about pursuing terrorist threat criminal charges because he said a radical (square root sign LOOKED LIKE a gun? Meanwhile your next school school is now thought of as a law-abiding gun owner right now,’ another user wrote exasperatedly.
One Twitter user joke: ‘Police investigate student for drawing…a square root sign. Doing his math problems. Because it looked scary,’