ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - A message warning of a false threat sent Lake Brantley High School students into a panic Thursday.
School officials said they believe a student sent the message about an hour after an unannounced code red, or active shooter, drill was conducted.
After the exercise was completed, a school administrator announced on an intercom that the code red alert was merely a drill.
Student Justyce Berry told Channel 9 it was difficult to hear the announcement in the cafeteria because of the noise level.
"All you heard was, 'Code red. Code red,'" he said. "It was crazy. I was just sitting there, like, OK, I might die today."
The announcement was made at the same time as this message began circulating on social media and in text messages: "Active Shooter reported at Brantley / Building 1/Building2 and other buildings by B Shafer at 10:21:45. Initiate a Code Red Lockdown."
Student Joshua Roberts said he and his classmates ran away from campus as they are trained to do in the event of an active shooter on campus.
"Everyone was sprinting towards the door, and someone yelled, 'Shooter,'" he said. "We tried to get out as fast as possible."
Roberts said it was a chaotic scene as students thought they were running for their lives.
"It was a stampede. We all ran out to the baseball field, jumped fences. We're helping girls out," he said. "It was insane. Everyone thought it was real. That's your worst nightmare right there."
Seminole County Public Schools said it is trying to determine who sent the message, which was a photograph of a message on a teacher's phone. The message was sent to teachers and administrators during the drill.
A message notifying parents of the unannounced drill was sent out 45 to 60 minutes too late, said Michael Lawrence, a school district spokesman.
Lawrence said the school district said it will try to notify parents of drills sooner in the future.
"No. 2 lesson learned is obviously, we're not going to do a message over the intercom ... during a lunch period," he said.
Students say this false threat about an active shooter at a high school caused mass panic today after it circulated on social media and through text messages. Students thought it was real and ran for their lives. Details at 11 on @WFTV pic.twitter.com/N8rzB8S9Od— Samantha Manning (@SamanthaWFTV) December 7, 2018
© 2018 Cox Media Group.