Threatening messages on Facebook that resulted in a lockdown of Ilion schools Monday were traced to a lost cell phone, according to Ilion police.
Police report the department began receiving calls Monday at 7:30 a.m. from Facebook users who were concerned about messages that had been posted from another Facebook user. While the messages did not directly threaten any specific location, individual or group, they were threatening enough to cause concern among some Facebook account recipients, police said.
Ilion police contacted Ilion Central School and the district placed its three schools on temporary lockdown status while police sought to verify the whereabouts of the Facebook account user.
When the individual was located, police learned he had lost his cell phone the previous day and had not placed any threatening messages on his Facebook account. Police said it appeared whoever found the missing cell phone posted the threatening messages in order to create problems for the Facebook account user.
The schools were removed from lockdown at approximately 11:45 a.m.
Ilion Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra, Jr. said the Ilion Police Department was in contact with him throughout the morning and at about mid-morning, 10 a.m. or so, police recommended the schools be placed on lockdown.
Tangorra said he has an excellent relationship with the village police department and added, “We will always defer to law enforcement. If they suggest we go into lockdown, we’ll go into lockdown without question.”
He said the district’s first order of business is to make sure the children are safe and secure. “Once all the buildings are in order, at that point we can begin notifying people,” he said. “I know it’s frustrating for parents and guardians who want to know what’s going on, but we have to take it one step at a time.”
Ilion police are continuing to investigate the matter and are attempting to locate the individual responsible for sending the messages.
“At no time does it appear the threatening messages were anything more than a prank,” police stated in a news release. “The children in the Ilion Central School District were not in danger and were only placed within a lockdown status until the Facebook account user could be located and questioned.”
Police said the name of the individual who owned the missing cell phone is not being released. After he was located and questioned, the individual was later able to access his Facebook account using another computer to change his passwords, along with removing the threatening messages that had been improperly posted on his account.
The individual also contacted his cell phone carrier to cancel his service pending the issuance of a new cell phone and number.
Ilion police are reminding people of the importance of protecting and securing their private passwords. They are also reminding people to protect and secure their private passwords and avoid leaving their personal accounts, including social media and financial institutions, open to anyone who may access their cell phones.