El Dorado woman in custody for posting “They shooting at Barton”, causing panic to parents and the community-at-large

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Arkansas (08/23/19) — A woman is in custody for posting a false alarm on social media Friday morning.

Megan Hall, 28, was arrested for charges of communicating a false alarm. Hall made a Facebook post saying “They shooting at Barton”.

The El Dorado School District received word about the post around 8:15 a.m. and immediately called police to investigate. The post was quickly removed but several friends took a screenshot of the post, further spreading the rumor in the community.

Detectives worked to find where the post originated and had enough probable cause to arrest Hall, who has no children at Barton.

Police say they made contact with Hall who voluntarily went to the El Dorado Police Department for an interview. Hall told police she heard about the shooting through friends and family. Police say she handled it all wrong.

“A choice was made to make this post without finding out any information at all, without contacting the school or the police department,” Lieutenant Christopher Lutman said.

It’s a serious crime that police say will not be tolerated.

“We take this seriously and always do,” Lt. Lutman said. “This caused a massive disruption at the school which led to dozens and dozens of children being checked out by their parents.”

Hall has been booked into Union County Detention Center and could face up to six years in jail or pay a fine up to $10,000. She is being charged with a Class D felony.

According to Arkansas law, communicating a false alarm is a Class D felony if there is damage to property results or the false alarm communicates a present or impending bombing and is made to or about a public or private educational institution.

El Dorado Superintendent Jim Tucker urges parents to verify information before they ever post to social media.

“If you hear something like this, don’t take their word for it on social media, verify it with the school district,” Tucker said. “Don’t share things that aren’t verified. Don’t comment on things that aren’t verified.”

The district says they will always communicate through their website, social media or their mass calling system if an actual threat is being made.

School officials urge parents to make sure their contact information at their child’s school is complete and accurate.

Hall will appear in district court August 26.

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