When an employee at a South Carolina college texted her daughter yesterday that she “could hear gun shots being fired inside the school,” she did not follow it by saying “April Fools.” The disturbing joke escalated into an all-out police investigation.
According to the police report, Angela Timmons, 54, sent the message to her 34-year-old daughter April, who lives in New York. She said that she heard shots and was hiding in the bathroom at Virginia College, where she works in financial planning, according to The Smoking Gun.
Frantically texting her mother back, April got no answer. So she called the police.
Lt. Tony Ivey with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office said they got the call and 15 to 20 deputies were immediately dispatched.
"I'm thinking Columbine High School, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech," said Sheriff Chuck Wright, who was prepared for a grave situation when he approached the school.
When questioned, Timmons told deputies that she “sent the text as an April Fools joke and that she has done such jokes on April Fools in the past.”
Wright noted how quickly his deputies had responded to the call, prepared for the worst. Timmons’ joke was worse than bad taste, he said.
"Text someone and tell them their tire's flat, that's funny," Wright said. "We're talking about death. It's real. The people of Sandy Hook, when they see this online they're not going to think it's very funny. I don't think it's very funny."
Investigators confirm that there was “no record” on her phone that she had clarified that the alarming message was a joke.
Timmons was arrested and booked on several charges including disturbing a school and a breach of peace. She is being held in county jail.
Virginia College Vice President Diane Worthington said in a statement that the administration was “very, very disappointed regarding the poor judgment displayed,” apologizing to the Spartanburg Sheriff’s Department on behalf of the school.