On April 27th, the Gardner Police Department and USD 231 became aware of a photograph posted to the social media messaging application Snapchat. The photograph showed a teenage male holding a firearm. Added text to the photograph read “Gardner kids. Don’t come to school monday @gehs kids.”
Gardner PD, in cooperation with USD 231, immediately started an investigation.
After investigation, no credible threat to GEHS students or staff was identified, and a statement was issued that there was no reason to believe the post warranted a safety concern.
“The juveniles involved in the Gardner incident are both Gardner residents.  As they are juveniles, we will not release their names” said Sgt. Steve Benz, GPD public information officer.
This type of crime could result in a criminal charge as simple as disorderly conduct or as serious as criminal threat, Benz said. “Each case is independently evaluated by the district attorney’s office.”
During the investigation, the teenage male in the photograph was quickly identified, and Gardner PD officers were able to make personal contact with him and his parents.
The initial investigation revealed the teen did pose for a photograph with a firearm at an earlier date, but it was shared without any accompanying text. At some point during subsequent shares of the photograph, threatening text was added.
As the investigation into a Snapchat post from April 27 continued, detectives located and interviewed the juvenile who admitted to adding the text to the photograph. GPD is working with USD 231 and the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office to determine the appropriate course of action in this case.
Benz cautioned that the “shelf-life” of a photograph could be indefinite.
When someone posts a photograph on Snapchat, either through a person-to-person submission, or by posting it on their Story, the photographs are supposed to vanish, so to speak, within a short time frame, Benz said. “Once they do vanish, there is no getting them back.  But there is also nothing to stop another Snapchat member from taking a screenshot of the posted/shared photograph.  They can then take that screenshot and keep, modify, or share it with whomever they choose.  And once a photograph is out on the internet, it can live there in its original form, or in any modified form, with little chance of getting it off the internet.”
“Some people give very little consideration to how their personal photographs might be used when they post them online.  They do not stop to think that a photograph of them could resurface years after first being published on the internet.” Benz continued. “Our national news is replete with stories of how an old photograph of someone in a compromising situation or position is now being used to damage their reputations, careers, ambitions, etc. And photographs don’t have to be of someone in a compromising situation to be used inappropriately.  Personal pictures of individuals are used daily on the internet by persons that create false identifies for themselves, using other people’s images as their own, in order to take advantage of people, physically and/or financially. ”
“People should be sure that when posting their photographs, and those of family and friends, that the photographs are only available to others that have permission to access their social media account pages” Benz said.  “There is no foolproof way of keeping your photographs safe and secure, if you put them out on the internet.  People must be careful on how, where and when they share their photographs. It is safest to remember that any photograph you share on social media or on the internet could remain on the internet forever. “
USD 231 did not respond to a request for information by press time.