New Hampshire: Republican governor criticises bounty for teachers

Image copyright PA Image caption Shon Hopwood posted on Facebook a letter offering reward for teachers who fear for their safety at schools

Republican governor Chris Sununu in New Hampshire has condemned an online posting offering a “bounty” for teachers who fear for their safety at schools.

His statement follows a Facebook message by an out-of-state woman offering $100 for every teacher who claimed they were threatened.

The woman, Shon Hopwood, of Pensacola, Florida, is a person of interest in a school shooting threat.

She denies offering the bounty.

The state’s governor says no teacher will be targeted by the bounty offered by Ms Hopwood.

“Such violence, which cannot be tolerated in New Hampshire, has no place in our public schools and public places in our state.

“If any teacher had claimed to have been threatened in any way, I would have suspended such action immediately,” said Mr Sununu in a statement.

However, he said he would “seriously consider taking further action” against any local schools or municipal entities that take similar action.

School security had improved since the 1996 Columbine school shooting in Colorado, he said.

“It is unfortunate that we can no longer take as a given that innocent people are safe in our state,” he said.

A suspicious package was found at an elementary school in the town of Hudson on Monday.

Officials did not disclose the contents of the package or what caused the lockdown but said it was safe for students to leave.

Ms Hopwood has denied offering the bounty and said it is the motive behind a recent social media post linking her to a threat to a Dover-area high school.

She said it is “ridiculous” to claim she posted a “tweetspiration” about the tweet.

The tweet said: “The next one of these schools is gonna go down the f******* crapper and I promise you the parents will thank me.”

Homemade threats about school shootings have increased in popularity on social media in recent months, with social media users claiming to have been offered money for each ‘gangbang’ threat.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and police are investigating a viral threat to a Portland high school.

In July, a teacher in Louisiana was jailed for making a series of threatening comments about schools.

Teacher Cecil Surratt had, according to the judge, posted about a threat on Facebook.

He had said he “may get a few yuks out of it, I may make an entrance, maybe I’ll appear wearing orange, smoking a fake gun and getting poured on in the classroom.”

The National Rifle Association has called for tougher punishments for teachers who post threatening remarks about school shootings.

The group’s president, Wayne LaPierre, said the society could not countenance a national policy that “coddles those who build arsenals in their basements and walk into schools with bombs strapped to their chest”.

In a nod to the #metoo movement, Mr LaPierre urged tougher sentences for teachers who made violent threats about women.

He repeated the NRA’s slogan of “keepin’ it real” in the gun debate.

“No one put a gun to anyone’s head, no one forced anyone to learn, no one forced anyone to educate,” he said.

“It is against the law for someone to threaten violence against anyone for doing that job.

“Killing (or threatening) educators is really nothing more than murder and I think the proper punishment for it, when it happens, should be in prison for a long time.”

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