A Texas high school launched a search throughout its grounds and kept students in their classrooms after a teen thought he heard the word "gun" when someone asked for a piece of gum, officials said.
After a student at Lehman High School in Kyle reported he overheard a student say someone had a gun, an investigation was launched to probe the so-called “gun threat” about 11 a.m. Wednesday, Tim Savoy, spokesman for Hays Consolidated Independent School District told INSIDE EDITION.
The school did not enter into a lockdown and the misunderstanding was cleared up in about 10 minutes, Savoy said.
"They didn't even realize what was going on," he said of the student body, but noted that rumors started flying after one student wrote on social media that he was being kept in a classroom for hours.
"They were doing the PSAT, so they had kids in extended class periods, and then a lot of kids had their phones turned off," Savoy said
Since the school had been conducting the PSAT, it was able to keep students in their extended class periods as the concern was investigated, Lehman H.S. Principal Michelle Chae said in a letter to parents.
“The safety of our students is always foremost on our list of priorities, so we take these concerns seriously. We continue to encourage students to report anything they see or hear that causes them concern,” the letter read. “Fortunately, in this case, it was a misunderstanding and there was no threat to our school or need to conduct a lockdown.”
That environment created the perfect storm for rumors to fly, however, Savoy said.
"A couple of parents thought there was a lockdown and (were) putting that up on social media," he said. "People outside the school were more concerned than people inside the school."
Savoy said officials determined that the student that was believed to have been talking about a gun had actually asked someone if they had chewing gum.
"Kids that were involved and those who were near" were spoken to about the situation, he said. "Everything was fine about 10 minutes later."
But Savoy said he thought social media and the timing of the practice test contributed more to the snowball of rumors than the recent spate of shootings.
"I think the other part of it, the social media phenomena, everything is instant. It doesn’t take much for something to catch wind," Savoy said. "It’s a different day in communication in general. I would credit it (the frenzy) probably more to the fact that a, (there were) extended classes and b, the phones were turned off and it just kind of came together."
Still, he was glad that the student who misunderstood his classmate brought what he thought he heard to an authority figure's attention.
"We’d rather have them report it and it not be anything… versus the opposite," he said.