A discussion among students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, La., about a mathematical symbol led to a police investigation and a search of one of the student’s homes, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office.
On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign.
Students in the group began commenting that the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by itself equals another number, looked like a gun.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
After several students made comments along those lines, another student said something the sheriff’s office said could have sounded like a threat out of context.
Police searched the student’s home, where they found no guns or any evidence that he had any access to guns. Authorities also wrote there was no evidence the student had any intent to commit harm.
“The student used extremely poor judgment in making the comment, but in light of the actual circumstances, there was clearly no evidence to support criminal charges,” the department wrote, adding that the school board had been contacted to determine any disciplinary action for the student.
The mass shooting sparked a wave of reported threats against other schools across the country — threats that are still coming in by the day and have set local parents, students and emergency officials on high alert.
In the Miami area alone, school threats jumped from one a week to as many as 50 a day, the Miami Herald reported.
Still, many on social media thought the reaction to the “threat” in Oberlin was more than a little overblown.