ARLINGTON, Texas - Police said while they tried to locate the Timberview High School shooting suspect Wednesday, officers were dealing with fake threats from other campuses.
They said that may have slowed down parts of the investigation, and they issued a warning.
It was a very intense four to five hours as police from Arlington, Mansfield, and Grand Prairie all worked together to keep hundreds of students safe and search for a shooting suspect.
And at the same time, they had to devote resources to investigate threats against other nearby schools.
Timberview High School was placed on lockdown less than two hours into the school day Wednesday morning after a shooting inside of a classroom.
There were 1,700 students who were evacuated from campus, while other Mansfield ISD schools and 15 nearby Arlington ISD campuses were placed on lock out.
"Not locked in, locked out, meaning nobody can get into the schools in Arlington, in Mansfield Independent School District," explained Arlington Police Department Assistant Chief Kevin Kolbye.
Police spent those first tense hours searching for 18-year-old Timothy Simpkins, but said they were forced to turn some of their attention toward investigating social media threats unrelated to Timberview High School.
"During the entire onset of this event, our teams were being divided away from leads of our suspect location with inaccurate information at schools all over North Texas," Grand Prairie Police Chief Daniel Scesney said.
Police would not elaborate on the specific nature of the threats, but later clarified they believe they were posted online by students in other nearby schools.
Each one, though unsubstantiated, required officers to investigate instead of focusing their attention on the situation at Timberview.
"I’ve got a call to action for parents, take a look at your kid’s social media. If they are putting out threats on their schools, they are going to be arrested and they are going to be prosecuted," Scesney added.
Mansfield ISD is now investigating how a .45 caliber handgun ended up on campus at the center of a classroom fight.
"We do not have metal detectors, but we do have law enforcement officers on every single one of our campuses," Mansfield ISD communications director Donald Williams said.
Mansfield ISD has a total of 46 schools, with one officer assigned to each elementary school and two assigned to every middle and high school.
It’s a policy that Williams said was put in place by a school safety task force three years ago.
"Once this particular incident occurred, the response time for our law enforcement officer that was there, present and on the campus itself was pretty swift from that standpoint," he added.
And while Williams did not go into detail about any specific weapon or backpack policies within the district, he said Timberview has a robust safety and security policy.
"We’re going to reassess and evaluate this situation itself. To look and see if we have any gaps as it relates to what transpired and look at getting better," Williams said.