Probe continues after posts prompt lockdown

The Sheriff's Office is investigating after the Columbia School District was on alert earlier this week.

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BURBANK -- The Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office is continuing an investigation into reports of racially charged posts on Facebook that prompted a Columbia School District lockdown Tuesday morning.

The posts originated on an anonymous Facebook profile that was shut down shortly after posts that targeted Jews, African-Americans and homosexuals, according to police.

The Facebook posts were first reported to the Sheriff's Office on Monday night by concerned parents.

"According to a concerned parent, these posts contained threats of violence against the school in Burbank and contained derogatory vulgar comments towards people based upon their race, color, religion, ancestry and sexual orientation," said a Sheriff's Office press release issued Tuesday afternoon.

School officials said the incident was exaggerated by concerned parents and that the posts contained "no credible threats."

"The parent was not acting from a primary source," said Superintendent Lou Gates Wednesday morning. "Rumors took it to a level of threats. We have copies of the Facebook page. The bottom line is someone extrapolated."

Sheriff John Turner said deputies have looked at the copies, and have also requested a record from Facebook of all the posts and personal information connected with the disabled profile.

"We take these things very seriously," Turner said. "We have a criminal investigation that is open and ongoing to find out exactly what occurred."

Luke Hegdal can be reached at lukehegdal@wwub.com or 526-8326.

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