Official Info Scarce, Corrupt Info Flourishes During Active Shooter Scare at Maine West High School in Des Plaines

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Maine West High School is in lockdown Friday morning after authorities responded to a report of shots fired due to a potential accidental push of an active shooter button (WGN News). YouTube Tips ⓘ

When authorities didn’t provide real-time information or confirmation regarding an active shooter-related threat; scammers, speculators, worried relatives, political activists and others took over the information flow Friday.

Police, firefighters, and paramedics from Des Plaines responded about 9:50 a.m. Friday, May 12, 2023 to a threat-related incident at Maine West High School, 1755 South Wolf Road in Des Plaines. However, it took awhile for officials to confirm the incident, and any details about the incident.

A Maine West High School lockdown in Des Plaines was prompted by a false active shooter alarm, the district said (Christian Piekos/ABC 7 Chicago). YouTube Tips ⓘ

As of 12:30 p.m. about 90 minutes after the incident, there was scarce legitimate information from authorities regarding the incident, compared to information that was flowing via social media. Compared to other police departments in Chicagoland, the Des Plaines Police Department normally provides one of the most thorough and informative official sources of information regarding their local criminal activity. Today, the Des Plaines Police Department initially reported that there was a “report of shots fired.” However, media reports sourcing a statement from Maine Township High School District 207 and social media reports indicated that an active shooter intruder alarm was activated, but it wasn’t initially known whether someone accidentally pushed the button that activates the active shooter intruder alarm, or whether the alarm malfunctioned.

The school district apparently made notifications about the incident by email only. Parents who received the email, then posted the email on social media.


School was placed on lockdown …

“to keep students and staff safe” and to keep in line with protocol.”

— Maine Township High School District 207

The school district did not provide any information acknowledging the incident on their official website or any of their official social media accounts as of 1:00 p.m. Friday. There was no mention of a reunification point until an update was posted by the Des Plaines Police Department on their official Facebook page at 12:24 p.m. (Prairie Lakes Community Center, 515 East Thacker Street in Des Plaines).

Authorities’ social media summary …

Des Plaines Police Department (official Facebook)
10:32 AM — “The Des Plaines Police Department responded to the area of Maine West High School for the report of shots fired. Officers are currently investigating this incident and the school has been evacuated. There has been no report of injuries at this time. Please avoid the area until further notice.”

12:24 PM — “All Maine West High School students and staff are safe. The building has been cleared and a perimeter will be maintained around the school. The reunification point is Prairie Lakes Community Center, located at 515 E. Thacker St. Students should be picked up at Prairie Lakes as school has been canceled for the day and parents cannot access the school. Staff from Maine West and Maine Township High School District 207 are at Prairie Lakes to help with the reunification process and questions.”

Des Plaines Fire Department (official Twitter)

No mention of an incident as of 1:00 p.m. Friday.
(In incidents that have occurred nationwide, some fire departments acknowledge active shooter incidents, and confirm whether they are treating patients or not, or confirm that there are no reported injuries.)

Maine Township High School District 207 Official Facebook

No mention of an incident as of 1:00 p.m. Friday.

Maine Township High School District 207 Official Twitter

No mention of an incident as of 1:00 p.m. Friday.

Maine Township High School District 207 Official Instagram

No mention of an incident as of 1:00 p.m. Friday.

Maine Township High School District 207 Official Website

No mention of an incident as of 1:00 p.m. Friday.

Comments on Social Media Take Over the Narrative

With a lack of information that make sense from authorities, the narrative regarding the Maine West High School incident was taken over by social media commentary — spammers and scammers, speculators, worried relatives, political activists.

Des Plaines Police Spam Link Alert on their official Facebook page Friday May 12, 2023.
Des Plaines Police Spam Link Alert on their official Facebook page Friday May 12, 2023.

On a Des Plaines Police Department Facebook post about the incident on their official Facebook page, the police department had to alert people about a spam link, “This is a spam link. Please do not click it.” Spammers often post links to fake videos purporting to show active scenes of a variety of incidents.

A debate about gun control appeared in the comments section for the post. Someone else attempted to start an immigration discussion. Other commenters posted updates via referrals from media sources.

Two of media sources referred were lesser known “media sources” that may have quickly scraped local news sites in attempt to attract clicks from the comments sections of social media. One link referred to a article. The company website is registered from the Reykjavik Capital Region in Iceland. Another website is registered in the United States, but may a news website attempting to mimic an NBC-affiliated news media company. The ‘NBC’ in the domain address and the number ’13’ in the domain appear perhaps to trick people into believing the website is connected to a National Broadcasting Company affiliate TV station.

On the Ring Neighbors app, someone posted, “No shooting, kid with a gun.” One app user “Neighbor40” reported “I just heard there was an active shooter but no details” … In fact, there was no active shooter.

Providing public safety information to the public in the information age is a difficult challenge for law enforcement, because authorities don’t want to inform offenders in a manner that would benefit the offenders. However, lack of legitimate information provided by authorities for the public could also benefit criminal offenders by helping them escape unrecognized by an unaware public. Offenders could also compound their criminal offenses by generating violent schemes that further victimize the public that is either unaware or misinformed about a major incident, such as an active shooter incident.



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The information in this article is an early report published before any complete summary information was confirmed or released by police or fire authorities.

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