Adjacent schools in Georgia were locked down for two hours Wednesday after a text message reportedly warned of a “gunman” on campus. Later, it was learned that the message was the result of a smartphone autocorrect function, attempting to “fix” the misspelled slang word “gunna.”
A series of mixups
A series of mixups led to an innocent message being viewed as a potential high-alert threat to the West Hall middle and high schools in Gainesville, Ga. What appeared to be a message reading “gunman be at west hall today” was actually intended to say “gunna be at west hall today.” Furthermore, the message was texted to the wrong number, contributing to its appearance of being a threat.
Authorities and administrators cooperate
The lockdown started prior to noon and ended at 1:45. Sergeant Stephen Wilbanks of the Hall County Sheriff’s Department told the Gainesville Times in a statement:
“I am extremely proud of our school team members as they handled a challenging situation well. While this event caused a great deal of anxiety among students, staff and parents, be assured that we will always err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of our boys and girls.”
Gordon Higgins of Hall County Schools concurred:
“The school system always relies on law enforcement for school safety and anytime they request a lockdown we go with that request. We always take every precaution concerning a potential threat or danger.”
Event follows tragic school shooting
Unfortunately timed, the message was discovered three days after a deadly shooting rampage in an Ohio high school that left three young people dead.
An innocent misunderstanding
There will apparently no charges filed because the whole unfortunate chain of events was an misunderstanding.
Sergeant Wilbanks said:
“Our investigators followed up the leads pretty quickly and they were able to determine that the texts came from a student from Lanier Technical College. There was no malicious intent whatsoever. No harm was done. The school was shut down for a couple of hours and then everything was opened back up.”
The stuff of online humor
Autocorrect errors can create unintentional juxtapositions that are often shared in the social media for their comic effect. There is even a website — Damn You, Autocorrect — devoted to posting the errors. Unlike getting Rick rolled however, it appears this source of online amusement can sometimes, at the very least, lead to real inconveniences in the real world.
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