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Mom Convicted for Facebook Post that Caused Community Panic

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The Short of It

A New Mexico mom is arrested and convicted after igniting a school-wide panic with her Facebook post.

The Lowdown

Jeanette Garza Alvarez, 32, is in some serious trouble after she posted a status update on Facebook about a possible shooting attempt at Sierra Middle School in Roswell, N.M., instead of going to the police.

"Anyone else's kids go to Sierra?" she wrote. "My son says some 8th graders are planning on bringing guns to school maybe Monday and have a shootout to see who's the first to die."

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Not surprisingly, the post, which has since been taken down, led to a community-wide panic, causing 160 students to skip class on the Monday in question and leading to more than 100 calls to the school administration.

And while Alvarez said she wrote the post simply as a way to gather information, the massive community response led to her being charged and convicted of creating a public nuisance, and she was given a 30-day deferred sentence and a $29 fine.

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"Her concern for her son's safety and for other students' safety was certainly understandable," Roswell Police spokesman Todd Wildermuth told local news station KRQE. "But what should have been done was to call the school, call the police department, let them know what she had heard."

The Upshot

This seems ridiculously harsh to me. Should Alvarez have gone to the authorities first? Maybe, especially with a threat as disturbing as this one. But at the same time, social media has become an almost instantaneous way for us to dispel news and gather infomation, so I don't blame her for turning to Facebook as a way to quickly find some answers. And if her actions stopped a school shooting from taking place, well then, we should all be calling her a hero.

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"I think the mom that posted it did the right thing," parent Ginny Hatfield told KRQE. "I mean, I didn't send my daughter to school because of it, and I'd rather her be safe than have something possibly happen."

I couldn't agree more.

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