Instagram threat traced to Pendleton Heights MS student

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Pendleton Police have tracked down who sent a death threat to students at Pendleton Heights Middle School.

The Instagram account threatened to kill students one by one if the user reached 25 followers - a goal that was met by Wednesday morning.

Almost a dozen law enforcement officers staged at Pendleton Heights Middle School this morning before classes started.

The Instagram message titled "Anonymous Killer" read, "I kill PHMS students every by one. Will you be the next death? Who am I? Once I get to 25 followers I will start my killing spree."

Principal Dan Joyce notified the police who posted ten police officers inside and outside to greet teachers and students arriving Wednesday morning at school. Only after getting students into class did the school district send a message to parents informing them that "..someone posted a threat against PHMS students… and a plan was put into place to make sure our students were safe…Ten officers ….were in our building prior to students arriving and stayed until all students were safely in class."

Police traced the post to a seventh grade boy at the school. The principal says the student could face expulsion. Joyce told Eyewitness News why the district decided not to make the social media threat known to parents right away.

"We just didn't feel like we had the details and we didn't want to create our own hysteria. It was a tough question of do you send a message or do you not?" said Joyce.

"This is a student that has never given us any difficulty. He has never been in trouble. He made a huge mistake and I tried to make sure the student and his parents understood what he did to this entire community with folks worried about the safety of their children," Joyce added.

After meeting with the principal, the seventh grader and his parents left the school carrying the student's belongings in bags.

The school is using this as a teachable moment for other students. Joyce hopes parents will have serious talks with their kids about using social media the right way.