OAKLEY -- The possibility of a fight or incident at Freedom High, sparked by social media rumors, prompted strong reaction from local police and school officials Friday.
Oakley police, Contra Costa sheriff deputies and additional school administrators were on the Oakley campus Friday as a precautionary measure and to allay fears, Principal Erik Faulkner said.
The rumors were unsubstantiated, but police presence on campus was increased Friday nevertheless, Contra Costa sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said.
Faulkner says the incident started over a couple of isolated fights in the last three days, including one in which words were exchanged among kids with loose gang affiliations.
After some students were suspended, the rumors took off. Each one was checked, but nothing substantial was found, he said.
"This was a case of social media run amok and kids not pausing to determine the validity of what (they are) about to retweet," Faulkner said.
Faulkner said he heard from faculty members that there was tremendous action on Twitter, Facebook and Instragram that started about 6 p.m. Thursday night indicating there would be "some sort of violence, or some kind of shooting" around lunchtime.
"It became a full-blown Facebook, Instagram melee," he said.
Freedom families received an automated phone call and email from the school Friday morning, indicating that security was being stepped up.
At one point Friday, some students saw what they thought was someone with a weapon, but did not know if the person was a Freedom student, Faulkner said.
Police did a search of the campus and found nothing suspicious or unusual, Lee said.
"It was not a traditional lockdown," said Faulkner, adding that kids were asked to stay in their first-period classroom a few extra minutes. "Again, it was based on someone saying they thought they saw something, but we erred on the side of caution. We didn't find any weapons or any threats."
Parents were invited to pick up their children from school if they had concerns, but the "vast majority" of students stayed, Faulkner said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.