Internet Hoax Impacts Small Community - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Internet Hoax Impacts Small Community

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A fake story on the Internet is causing a real stir about a city in Western North Dakota. The article states that two police officers in Sherwood came into an elementary school last week and began tasing random children.

Phones have been ringing off the hook at the Renville Sheriff's Department because of the latest information that was released on a news satire site, National Report.

"Not one or two people a day. It's multiple people. I mean, it's growing and growing. Every website it goes on, we get people from all different states that are writing to us," says Barry Vannatta, Sheriff in Renville County.

The National Report claims that two police officers in Sherwood, North Dakota barged into a kindergarten classroom and began tasing multiple children. None of the information is true. National Report publishes information like this with the intent of provoking a reaction.

"I do think this site should not publish this out to the world if they are not sure, if it's true or false. Now, we have to start building our reputation over again for what a lady wrote about us and what a publisher published about us," says Vannatta.

The article states, "The officers were apparently 'bored' with the absence of crime in the tiny North Dakota town. So, they decided to practice out their newly acquired tasers that the department just received.'"

"With people calling us and questioning whether of not we're allowing something like this to happen, it just shows how misinformation on the Internet can affect the perception of what's going on in North Dakota," says elementary principal Robby Voigt.

The article also says the incident happened at Calcutta Elementary School in Sherwood. The school does not exist.

"Right now, by our perspectives, when we are reading the article, there are three things that are true in this article.  There is a Sherwood, North Dakota. We do have an elementary school in Sherwood. And, we are a small town in North Dakota," says Voigt.

At the end of the day, the small town of Sherwood was the latest victim that shows the dangers of Internet rumors and how fast they can spread.

Vannatta has received multiple calls from people out of state, questioning Sherwood's law enforcement, and he says he is trying to defend not only his job but also his community.

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