A social-media firestorm has spent the last week enveloping Steubenville, Ohio, and on Tuesday morning it took a frightening turn: all district schools in the city went on a precautionary lockdown from 8:30-10:00 a.m. after police received word of "some type of shooting threat made on social media," reports local WTOV9 TV report.
There were no reports of an actual gunmen, and the threat that led to Steubenville's first major school lockdown was cleared as "non-viable." It also remains unclear whether the threat was a prank or a fallout from the controversy over the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by two members of Steubenville High's storied football team — the hacking group Anonymous, which spread awareness of the case with a viral document leak last Wednesday, has denied its involvement. But the incident does echo an ongoing narrative of multiple and now prominent Steubenville locals citing "threats" from strangers who feel strongly about the case.
Michael Nodianos, the former Steubenville High athlete who was filmed in a 12-minute video about the alleged victim that has since gone viral, suggested through his lawyer at a press conference Monday afternoon that he dropped out of Ohio State University in part due to threats stemming from that video.
Meanwhile, Steubenville residents looking to blame someone or anyone for harassment are beginning to center their focus on Anonymous. The hackers been called "terrorists," and it doesn't help that Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla has publicly called the group a threat to public safety. He said in a statement on Saturday:
Now it becomes my job when it comes to public safety. People are concerned, very upset, concerned about their children, and in fact Mothers have taken their children out of school, in fear of what may happen. This has gone too far. Enough is enough.
Anonymous and their KnightSec branch have always stressed peaceful protests and on Tuesday morning quickly denounced anyone that's threatened violence. Here are KnightSec's tweets:
The threat has been identified is the rumor and was a third party not affliated with us— Anonymous (@KYAnonymous) January 8, 2013
If you look at Anonymous's official Twitter account timelines, like @KYAnonymous's account, no threats of violence or shootings have ever been made. Not that made anyone feel better today.