Facebook Post Helps Police Solve Case

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MONTOURSVILLE -- A Facebook post led police to a teen who allegedly scared a student in Lycoming County.

The boy was walking home from school when police say a car pulled up and a passenger pointed what looked like a gun at him.

Montoursville Police have been using social media to get help solving crimes and Tuesday it worked.

Officers said it only took a couple of hours after posting a report of a possible gun threat to track down the car and the teen.

Montoursville Deputy Police Chief Jason Bentley logs onto Facebook several times a day for work, not pleasure.

The department's Facebook page came in handy Tuesday afternoon when a 10-year-old boy walking home from Lyter Elementary School reported seeing a car pull up several blocks from the school. A passenger yelled to him and showed what looked like a gun.

"He looked up and there was a gun pointing at him. He said he thought it was a BB gun, no less traumatizing whether real, fake, BB gun, didn't matter," said Deputy Chief Bentley.

The gun is a toy, complete with a magazine and toy bullets. At first, police couldn't be sure and quickly posted to Facebook asking for the public's help to track down the car and the teens inside.

"Within a short time got calls of individual doing this in high school parking lot, I got names, went and knocked on doors and found out who it was," added Deputy Chief Bentley.

Nowadays, possible gun threats near schools lead to lots of questions for police and school administrators. In this case, it only took a couple of hours to make sure everyone was safe.

"Puts us at ease here, we can go into our day a little easier knowing that was done and solved and taken care of," said Montoursville Area High School Principal Dan Taormina.

In January, Facebook users helped Montoursville Police identify a theft suspect from surveillance photos at the Smokers Express.

And while investigators are convinced they would have solved the possible gun threat eventually, they believe social media helped in a big way.

"Certainly not as quick. We wouldn't get people willing to testify. People came in through Facebook, saying we're willing to testify they did see this," said Deputy Chief Bentley.

Montoursville police say the 17-year-old boy who allegedly used the toy gun faces charges.

And officers will keep using Facebook as a tool, saying it lets them build up trust with people who in turn are more willing to help solve a crime.