Who knew that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song was hardcore enough to be mistaken for a threat? Yes, the very lyrics that we all pretty much know by heart, confused officials who overreacted by locking down Ambridge High School, and others schools, in Pennsylvania, Thursday (Feb.28) morning.
Now, this is a story, all about how, a teenager’s life got flip-turned upside down.
It all started when an employee at the school called to confirm a doctor’s appointment for 19-year-old student Travis Clawson, and heard the lyrics “shooting some b-ball outside of the school” via his phone message. The person couldn’t quite comprehend the entire line correctly, and thought it was a call for violence.
From the Times Online:
All schools in the county were advised to lock down for about 20 minutes while police searched for a 19-year-old Ambridge Area High School student whose greeting to callers was mistakenly taken as a threat about “shooting people outside of the school.”
The actual line from the song is “And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school.” Because it is a bit garbled, it is unclear from listening to Travis Clawson’s phone message whether he inadvertently twisted the words or it just was misheard by the receptionist from his Sewickley eye doctor’s office who sent the day’s events in motion.
The receptionist called the Economy man’s phone to remind him about an upcoming appointment, but Clawson did not pick up and she was sent to voice mail, where his greeting caused her to call Sewickley police, who then contacted Ambridge school officials.
When Ambridge passed the information along to local police, a countywide schools lockdown was advised because no one knew where Clawson was, and the 911 response system is designed to notify all schools of a situation.
Police were finally able to contact Clawson, who was at the school guidance counselor’s office, which was swarmed by cops. He explained that the message was merely an ode to Will Smith’s sitcom.
Upon closer inspection, District Attorney Anthony Berosh announced that Clawson wasn’t plotting a mass shooting, he was actually just rapping the lyrics to the song on his phone message, so they released him.
James Mann, acting police chief in Ambridge, said his squad handled the situation properly. “I believe everyone acted appropriately. Our first concern is the safety of kids,” he said.