February 7 — 12:27 pm, 2019

Police increase security at 10 schools after Instagram threat

The schools stayed open.

studentsafety 2017 file photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

Update: A robocall to parents Friday morning reported that police have identified the person who posted the threat, and they determined that it was a hoax.

Police stepped up security Thursday in and around 10 city schools after finding an Instagram post from an unknown person threatening violence.

“The threat was to shoot people at these schools,” said School District spokesman Lee Whack. “The post on Instagram has been taken down; the person who posted it is unknown.” Philadelphia police, who monitor social media, are investigating.

Parents at the schools received a robocall alerting them to the threat just after 11 a.m. Schools were not closed.

“Unfortunately, these things happen from time to time,” said Whack. “We take all of them seriously.”

He said both city police and School District security were intensified in and around the schools mentioned in the threatening post.

The schools seem to have little in common, although half of them are located in South Philadelphia. Often, threats like this target a particular neighborhood.

The schools are:

  • Academy at Palumbo, Franklin Learning Center, School of the Future, and Central, all high schools.
  • Masterman, which serves grades 5-12.
  • Four elementary schools in South Philadelphia:  Jackson, Kirkbride, Vare-Washington, and Fell.
  • Mastery-Thomas, a charter school in South Philadelphia for students in grades 7-12.

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