Social media hoax causes stir
Tammy Cheek
A false report of a terrorist threat spread through social media kept away Farragut High and Middle school youth from a Student Ministries meeting Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Two Rivers Church, 275 Harrison Road, Lenoir City.

Because of the social media reports, Brad Brinson, senior pastor of Two Rivers Church, said Thursday, Sept. 17, that about 40 high school and 70 middle school students did not attend the Sept. 16 meeting.

However, he said 100 high school students and 90 middle school students did attend.

“Early reports we are receiving from friends in Knox County law enforcement are assuring us this was a classic example of gossiping tongues lighting a destructive fire,” Brinson said.
“Late [Wednesday, Sept. 16] afternoon, we became aware of a rumor rapidly spreading via social media among Farragut high-schoolers and middle schoolers,” Brinson said. “The rumor suggested someone had taken pictures of Two Rivers Church to initiate a terrorist attack on those gathering on our campus.”

He said while he and other church staff considered the threat to be unlikely, they immediately called Loudon County Sheriff’s Office and Knox County Sheriff’s Office and contacted everyone on the church’s database.

“[Loudon County Sheriff’s Office] responded promptly and professionally placing officers around our property and at our entrances,” Brinson said.

Tony Aikens, Knox County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, attributed the threat as a false report.

“There was nothing to it,” Aikens said.

Brinson said he asked Knox County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the origin of the “rumor.”

“They immediately began an investigation, which is ongoing,” he said.

“Lastly, we contacted every person on our Two Rivers Church database through an emergency communication network already established, alerting students and parents of this unsubstantiated rumor, as well as the actions taken to assure our campus was safe,” he said.

Brinson said the bottom line is “all is well and safe at Two Rivers Church.”