Threats that prompted cancellation of classes at Southwest Tech sparked by “like” on Facebook

William Howell (PHOTO: WMTV)

GRANT COUNTY — Southwest Technical College in Fennimore was shut down Wednesday, November 1st after law enforcement officials say a man threatened his estranged wife, who is a student at the school.

According to WMTV, William Howell was arrested after the school was evacuated around 8:00 a.m. after a report from a student that there were threats on social media.

“We train if you see something, say something. It’s better to know and act on information than not be able to deal with a situation,” Jason Wood, Southwest Technical College president, told WMTV.

Sheriff’s officials told WMTV William Howell, who is not a student at the college, sent vague threats to his estranged wife, who is a student at Southwest Tech. He made the threats Tuesday night, October 31st, after a man liked photos of his kids on Facebook. Detectives say that led Howell to believe she was having an affair with the man.

“There was really no specific threats to harm or mass harm at the school or anything like that. It was geared to one person — but the threats were vague enough initially that Southwest Tech, they made the right call in shutting down, until we could find out what the threats were and who was all involved,” Sheriff Nate Dreckman with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office told WMTV.

Sheriff’s officials say Howell was messaging her on Facebook and texting her saying he was going to show up at the school and beat the man up. That’s when his estranged wife emailed a staff member about the threat.

“We applaud obviously her sending the message to the professor, but unfortunately, if she would have called us early (Wednesday) morning, this could have been taken care of well before school opened and we would not be in this situation right now,” Sheriff Dreckman told WMTV.

Authorities say Howell never showed up at the school and was later arrested at his home.