Oberlin, LA – A discussion in math class over how the square-root sign resembles a gun led to a police investigation of a terrorist threat, and the search of a student’s home.
Allen Parish Sheriff Department Lieutenant Greg Quirk confirmed the story to Blue Lives Matter.
“It was blown out of proportion,” said Lt. Quirk, who is chief of detectives.
There was a report of a terroristic threat to police on Feb. 20 after students were discussing a mathematical symbol, according to the Miami Herald.
Students in the group began commenting that the square-root symbol looked like gun.
Other students agreed, and another student said something that the sheriff’s office said could have sounded like a threat, when taken out of context.
Officers searched the student’s home and found no guns, or evidence that the student had access to guns, police said.
Police also said there was no evidence the student had any intent to do any harm to anyone, according to the Miami Herald.
Allen Parish School District Superintendent Michael Doucet described the student’s comment as a quip made in bad judgment from one student to another in a math class, according to KATC-TV.
“The students were working together, and a student made a math symbol of a square root sign, which kind of looks like a pistol. And he was helping a weaker student, and the student says, ‘Well, that looks like a pistol!’ And he just made a comment [like] ‘let’s just get to work before I shoot you with a pistol,” said Doucet.
That was how rumors started that the student was plotting to carry out a mass shooting at Oberlin High School, he said.
“He did not commit a crime. He did not commit anything remotely criminal, nothing to remotely suggest any intent to do actual harm,” said Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert.
In response to this specific incident, the school board set a new policy that states any student accused of talking about guns or school shootings will be investigated by the school board, the sheriff’s department, and the district attorney’s office, KATC reported.
“The first thing we’re going to do is remove that student from the premises with proper authority,” Doucet said.
“Then, we’re going to have a home visit done by detectives of the sheriff’s department, and if no charges are filed, we’re going to conduct a threat assessment on the student,” he said.
The student was awaiting an expulsion hearing to determine if he can return to the school system, and was not allowed to return to school property, KATC reported.