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Detectives see uptick in school threats after school shootings

KPRC gets an inside look at how HISD tackles cyber crime

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HOUSTON – After the Santa Fe school shooting, local law enforcement officials are seeing an uptick in school threats all over the greater Houston community and on social media.  

Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas, and detectives said the month of May has been a busy one. One detective has taken on the majority of the work in looking into cybercrime, and officials said this detective has been very effective in preventing crime. KPRC got an inside look into how cybercrimes are investigated and why detectives say they are seeing more threats. 

"So far, right now, I'm about to hit 29 hours," said HISD detective Hector Gonzalez on Wednesday morning.

Gonzalez specializes in cybercrime and had been working for more than a full day and night investigating them.

"We received several threats last night. We treat every threat as if it's a real threat," Gonzalez said. "Nowadays our lives revolve around the internet. Everyone has a smartphone and everyone has a camera."

On a typical day, Gonzalez scours social media, looking for or investigating any potential threat, but after the Santa Fe High School shooting, his work and the work of his colleagues' has increased considerably.

"We are all on high alert," Gonzalez said. "The department, the chief-- has us on high alert."
After every school shooting, Gonzalez said law enforcement officials see an uptick in school threats for various reasons.

"Unfortunately, there is a history--there has always been copycats. You'll have somebody who does something and people just want the attention, be funny or just scare people," Gonzalez said.

The first school day after the Santa Fe High School shooting, at least five school districts experienced a potential threat or security violation involving weapons.

At Friendswood ISD on Monday, an eighth-grader who allegedly made a threat on social media now faces felony charges. Police say a threat is not a joke.

"We take it very seriously...Unfortunately, whenever they do that, they will get arrested," Gonzalez said.

On Tuesday, there were several threats. Last year, HISD last year had the most terroristic threats, with 89 reported cases, followed by Goose Creek ISD with 36 threats and Conroe ISD with 30 threats.

Officials said Gonzalez alone has to investigate more than 100 social media threats and with his tools, he was able to make arrests on most of them.

"This (Cellebrite tool) pretty much, it extracts information from anything we put on it," Gonzalez said.

HISD officials praised Gonzalez for his work.

"I'm just passionate about what I do, Like I said, safety is a priority," Gonzalez said.

He wants to remind students that anyone who poses a threat will be prosecuted.