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Kuelper: Police close to identifying poster

Suspect might have to reimburse city for school security, chief says

Published: Friday, March 14, 2014 12:46 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 14, 2014 8:01 p.m. CDT

ROCK FALLS – Police said Friday they were close to identifying the Facebook poster whose supposed comments that he would shoot up Rock Falls High spurred increased security patrols at the school.

The poster, who used a fake name and false identifying information when setting up the page, appears to be from this area, Rock Falls Police Chief Mike Kuelper said Friday morning.

Investigators were filling out the necessary paperwork to get specific information from Facebook, Kuelper said.

They will take the information to the Whiteside County state’s attorney, probably on Monday, to determine what charges will be filed, he said.

Wednesday, police learned about a “fake Facebook page” created by someone who made “rude and disrespectful” comments, they said in a news release Thursday morning.

The comments involved sinners, God, the devil and Matt Anderson, the Rock Falls High student who recently died as the result of what authorities are calling an accidental shooting.

According to several students, the person also stated on Facebook that he would shoot up the high school.

Neither police nor school officials, however, could find such a threat in the “ramblings” that the poster had made, said Kuelper and Rock Falls High School Superintendent Ron McCord.

Even though the poster did say on Facebook that he had made no such comment about shooting the school, and indeed no such comment could be found, police and school officials decided to “err on the side of caution” and ramp up security Thursday and Friday.

But because they did not find the threat in the thread of comments on the Facebook page, they considered it to be an “unsubstantiated and unconfirmed” rumor, and so decided not to alert parents, McCord and Kuelper said.

“There was no reason to get out a blast [text alert] and get people even more worried, more scared,” Kuelper said Thursday. Also, such notices tend to spur copycats, he said.

Rock Falls police and Whiteside County Sheriff’s deputies patrolled the area Thursday, and daily police walk-throughs at the school were lengthened and increased.

That activity continued to some extent Friday – more than usual but less than Thursday’s effort, Kuelper and McCord said. It was an early out testing day Friday, and students were dismissed at lunch.

The poster could face, at the least, a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, Kuelper said.

It will be up to the state’s attorney to decide whether evidence supports a felony charge.

If convicted of a felony, the poster also could be held responsible for the costs of the extra police patrols, Kuelper said.

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