Greensboro police warn that social media posts can lead to active shooter hysteria

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Saturday evening, Greensboro police were ready to respond to the worst possible scenario at the Four Seasons Mall after a report of an active shooter situation.

"Right now with tensions being so high from the Florida shooting and that tragedy that surrounds that. Everywhere that we seem to have a group of kids that congregate... whether if it's at a school or a mall or any other sporting event, things can quickly take a turn with the slightest provocation," Deputy Chief Mike Richey said.

Police quickly found out that there was no evidence of a shooting as many people shared, instead several small fights involving teenagers sparked the rumors. Officers arrested a 17-year-old female.

"A minor scrap, a minor fight or a minor disagreement can turn into reports of shots fired and active shooters in a matter of seconds and it hits social media and balloons," Richey said.

Richey says they have seen an increase in active shooter calls in the past week and a half around the city. Fortunately, all the reports have been false.

Police say the problem starts when people start posting what they are hearing on Facebook and other social media sites before verifying it.

"We are hearing that more things are active shooters when they actually haven't been. So, it's really only changed the number of things we've responded to," Richey said.

"So, every one of those reports we have to go check out and we are going to go and check every one of these out because we can't afford not to. Our biggest issue with it is it has drained our manpower, school administrators manpower, security manpower and really causing anxiousness in our communities and families," he went on to say.

To ease the fears, police suggest that you first call the people in charge of investigating the incident to find out what is really going on. Greensboro police tell FOX8 that its officers, along with schools and malls, all have plans in place in case there's an active shooter situation.