Cell phone auto correct sparks school gunman lockdown

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Last updated April 12, 2019

An auto corrected text message on a cell phone resulted in lockdowns at Oakwood middle and high school in Georgia on Wednesday.  The bizarre misunderstanding occurred when a student from Lanier Technical College, near to the West Hall High School campus, bought himself a new cell phone and attempted to send a text message to a friend at the high school to inform him that he would be coming to see him later in the day.

According to Hall County Schools Spokesman Gordon Higgins, the students’ unfamiliarity with his new cell phone led to the mix up.  Not only did the student end up accidentally sending the message to a stranger instead of his friend, but he also failed to notice that the phone’s auto correct spelling feature had changed the word “gunna” (as in “going”) to “gunman”.  The result was that the innocuous text message to a friend intended to read “gunna be at west hall today” became the far more sinister text to a stranger “gunman be at west hall today”.  The unintended recipient of the message called police.

The student who had sent the unintentionally threatening text was stunned when he found himself being located by police officers.  “There was no harm or intended threat,” Higgins notes.  “In this case the smart-phone may have been too smart.”

No charges were laid against the student and police say the stranger who reported the message did the right thing.