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Hoax text claimed girl died in school shooting

Posted at 9:27 AM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 09:27:12-04

SPOKANE, WA (KOMO/KXLY/CNN) - A cruel prank was played on a family Sept. 13 after a shooting at Freeman High School that killed one student and injured three others.

A couple was told via text that their daughter was fatally shot.

To their everlasting relief, they later find out the girl was never in danger, and is alive, but the question remains - why would someone pull this sort of hoax?

As Steve Stuart drove to the high school amid news of a mass shooting at the school, his wife frantically texted everyone to find out if their daughter, a freshman, was safe.

On the hourlong, agonizing drive, he got some good news from his wife.

"At this point, the only thing I had heard was that my daughter was OK," Stuart said

Bu his wife got more news, and she could barely speak.

She'd received a text from a friend saying their daughter was not breathing and had died.

"I immediately went to paramedics, telling them my daughter is in respiratory distress, have you received any information about this?" he said.

In the longest 30 minutes of Stuart's life, he talked to first responders, police officers and school nurses, all of whom knew nothing.

"I then went back up towards the high school to see if I could get some more information, and as I glanced over to the football field, I saw her," Stuart said.

He said it was an indescribable feeling of relief. 

It turns out the person who texted that information wasn't their friend. That friend got a new number, and whoever had the old one played the cruelest prank during the family's darkest hours.

"I don't know what type of thinking goes in to a person who would do something like that," Stuart said.

The Stuarts contacted the sheriff, but since being malicious is not against the law, nothing can be done.

Stuart is sharing his story because he wants people to know tragedy does not deter the cold-hearted.

"You can have your purse stolen, you can be told this horrible information by somebody who is miles away from it," Stuart said.

Indeed, a mother who rushed to the school amid the shooting had her purse stolen, and police are looking for suspects, according to the Associated Press.

Copyright 2017 KOMO and KXLY via CNN. All rights reserved. Raycom News Network contributed to this report.