Ohio schools close over threatening video

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — An anonymous video threatening the safety of “American students” was posted by a social media user in Europe, and there is no risk to Ohio University, authorities said Friday.

Initial concern about the threat prompted heightened security on the campus and closed six area school districts Friday.

Investigators shared an image from the video that shows a hand holding a gun and the words: “Tomorrow American students will die. Some of u are ok. Don’t go to school tomorrow.”

Initially, officials said the threat was posted on the app Yeti through a group that lets users affiliate with the southeastern Ohio university’s main campus in Athens. A concerned member of that group alerted authorities.

Late Friday, authorities said the threat appeared in the member’s Yeti feed based on keywords being monitored, not because the person making the threat was affiliated with the app’s Ohio University group.

University police and officers with the Athens and Athens County sheriff’s office commended the member of the Ohio University Yeti group who reported the video.

Ohio University’s main campus in Athens remained open as officials there worked with law enforcement to evaluate the threat, university spokeswoman Katie Quaranta told The Associated Press in an email. She said the week of final exams was wrapping up and weekend commencement ceremonies for thousands of graduates were proceeding as scheduled.

The FBI says it was coordinating with law enforcement evaluating the threat. Messages were left Friday evening with the FBI asking whether they had any information about any European law enforcement involvement.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith told The Athens Messenger that his office learned early Friday about a general threat produced around Athens and made toward American students.

The districts that closed were Athens City, Nelsonville-York Local, Federal Hocking, Trimble Local, Alexander Local and Tri-County schools. Those largely rural districts have a total of more than 8,000 students, based on enrollment data provided to the state for last year.

Schools in Gallia and Meigs counties were open, but placed on alert because of Ohio University’s proximity.

In an audio message sent to parents, Athens schools Superintendent Tom Gibbs said his district decided to close given the “short time frame to respond to the threat.”

The Ohio Department of Education was monitoring the situation as the closed school districts worked with local law enforcement, department spokeswoman Brittany Halpin said.