Stamford students suspended for making shooting gestures in latest TikTok video ‘challenge,’ officials say

Buses drop-off students at Rippowam Middle School on Sept. 14, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.

Buses drop-off students at Rippowam Middle School on Sept. 14, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.

John Moore / Getty Images file photo

STAMFORD — Multiple students at two of the city’s middle schools were suspended for participation in what looks like a video “battle” that included images of students using their hands to imitate the firing of a gun directed at a camera, officials have confirmed.

Students at Rippowam and Cloonan middle schools allegedly created the videos, meant apparently as a virtual battle between the two schools, police said.

They were shared on the popular social media platform TikTok.

Olympia Della Flora, associate superintendent for school development, did not specify how many students were suspended, only saying that “multiple” students received a suspension. She also did not say how long the suspensions were expected to last.

However, a TikTok video that includes multiple clips of what appear to be students from the schools allegedly simulating gun fire includes text on the bottom of the screen that says 40 students were suspended at Rippowam and 10 students received the same punishment at Cloonan.

The clip shows students either using their hands or a phone to mimic the firing of a gun. Some of the clips appear to have been filmed inside school buildings while others are unclear. At one point, a student is shown in what looks like a restroom waving what appears to be a real gun.

“We are aware of this situation and this is an open and ongoing investigation,” Della Flora wrote in an emailed message. “(Stamford Public Schools) administration is working collaboratively with the Stamford Police Department Youth Bureau and building administrators to address this incident.”

Della Flora added that it is not the district’s objective to punish students for mistakes.

“But our administrators do deal with situations individually and determine appropriate consequences for incidents that occur,” she wrote. “We do have the authority to address incidents that occur both on campus and off campus if they cause disruption to the learning environment at school.”

She also said each school also has “technology integration and support specialists” who can teach students about digital citizenship.

Della Flora said more information about the incidents at Rippowam and Cloonan would be shared in Superintendent Tamu Lucero’s weekly message.

Stamford Police Capt. Diedrich Hohn said the instances were “currently being investigated for criminality.”

Earlier this year, Stamford was one of many communities that reported vandalism in schools due to a TikTok challenge named “devious licks.” That trend involved students sharing videos of themselves destroying school property like mirrors, sinks and soap and towel dispensers.