Parent questions threat at LaSalle Intermediate Academy
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The principal of LaSalle Intermediate Academy sent the following statement to parents after a picture of a student with a gun appeared in social media.
"See something say something! Today LaSalle is safe because a student shared a social media post with their parents, who shared it with LaSalle administration. The school was able to put safety into action and secured the building prior to the start of the school day.There was never a threat on school campus. LaSalle is cooperating with our local law enforcement.Continue to discuss see something say something with your child to keep our environment safe." Nicole Medich, Principal.
The post showed a picture of a 13-year-old student with a pistol in his hand and the caption "seventh grade lasalle kids needa chilllll."
The child in the photo is 7th grade student Matthew Hoffman. His father contacted ABC57 to say his son did not post the picture or the threat.
"Because he was asleep at the time it was posted." Mike Hoffman said.
Hoffman says school officials tell him the picture was posted at 8:23am. At that time, he was driving his son to school. He says his son was asleep in the passenger seat of his truck.
Matthew admits he took the picture, but says it was months ago. The pistol is also a bb gun. Mathew tells ABC57 that he snuck into his dad's room and found the bb gun in a dresser drawer. He took the photo, sent it to a girl and posted it to Instagram to be cool and as a joke.
“But then I took it down, thinking someone might get the wrong idea or something like that.” Matthew said.
Friday morning, the picture resurfaced with the caption. He believes someone is making fun of him.
"Do you like school?" ABC57 asked the teen.
"Yes." He responded.
"Would you ever threaten your school?"
"No." He said.
His father says the school district would not tell him what social media platform or account the post was on.
“They suspended him indefinitely pending an expulsion.” Mike Hoffman explained.
ABC57 reached out to school spokesperson George Jones to get further clarification.
Below is a text conversation between Jones and Investigative Reporter Clifton French.
Clifton: "I already spoke to the father and the child in the picture. And, I have the picture. I'm wondering on what social media account it was found, who posted it and what about it is deemed a threat? Is it confirmed that the student in the picture shared and posted the picture with the caption? Is it school policy that no student can have a photo with a gun? If someone else added the caption and posted the picture, is this setting a precedent for any student to be punished for essentially a bullying incident?"
"The caption can be interpreted as making fun of the kid. Saying he needs to chill."
George: "Clifton, this is not news. If you are looking for a story you can come to the Black History Trivia Night at Washington HS. 7-9:30pm."
Clifton: "Is that your official response?"
George: "Our statement is what I sent you from Principal Nicole Medich."
The South Bend Police Department confirmed it is investigating.