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Report of threat at Milford Mill Academy was a hoax, police say

Milford Mill Academy in Windsor Mill was on lockdown for about two hours Wednesday as police investigated a threat against the high school that they later determined to be a rumor that "snowballed out of control."

Rumors circulated in the morning that someone was going "to shoot up the school," said Cpl. John Wachter, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department. Then, someone took a picture of a student who was standing at the entrance of the school — and a rumor started that he was the person who planned a shooting, Wachter said.

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"That picture flew around the school on social media," Wachter said. "Somebody just happened to take his picture and he became part of this rumor that snowballed out of control."

After a mother called the school to report that her child heard about a threat to the school, officers were dispatched at about 11 a.m. and began searching the building for a weapon. As a precaution, the school was placed on lockdown.

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About 1 p.m., police placed the school on "alert status," which is less serious than a lockdown but is intended to secure access to the building.

Police questioned the student whose photo was distributed on social media, determining he posed no threat and "was just minding his own business," Wachter said.

"Obviously, we'd like to find out who started the rumor, but that may never happen," he said.

Because of the incident, Milford Mill's home boys' basketball game against Randallstown scheduled for Wednesday evening was postponed and rescheduled for Jan. 12.

The incident was the second in two weeks that closed a school in Baltimore County. Last week, Kenwood High School in Essex closed early while county police investigated a possible bomb that ended up being a piece of pipe.

Wachter said the police must take all school threats seriously.

"We'd rather look like we're overreacting" than risk a school shooting, he said.

Milford Mill parent Sheila Harris, who was at the school to pick up her freshman son, said she was relieved that the incident was a hoax. Still, she called it worrisome that students' education was disrupted because of a rumor, and that such incidents could make kids afraid to go to school.

"It's disturbing," Harris said. "But thank God the children are all right."

Baltimore Sun reporter Glenn Graham contributed to this article.

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