Private meeting reaction prompts open letter from Auglaize County sheriff

May 17—WAPAKONETA — Social media engagement regarding an upcoming meeting between Auglaize County Sheriff Michael Vorhees and a group of Auglaize County residents has prompted an open letter from the sheriff's office published on Facebook.

According to Vorhees, a private group of county residents reached out to him a few weeks ago to ask if he would be willing to speak with them about how the county is staying prepared should an emergency situation arise.

"Basically, it's almost like a family meeting, but it was more than family, maybe family and friends," he said. "I said I would do that. So they said, 'Well, we made a little flyer up. We're not going to post it out. We're just going to pass it around.' Somehow that flyer got into the wrong hands and somebody posted it on social media."

That post led to Vorhees receiving multiple calls from other residents inquiring about the meeting, and Vorhees said he had no problem explaining what the private meeting was regarding.

"All they want to talk about is what's going on in our county and what's going on in our country, wondering if there is anything we should be concerned about [like] active shooters," he said. "[This is] stuff I do every day. I go out and give trainings like this every day."

Those questions soon began to expand, however, as rumors began to circulate online regarding the meeting, with some speculating that it was centered around the ongoing issue at the nation's southern border, as well as the influx of immigrants in this area.

"I received calls from other officials and people saying, 'I don't like illegal immigrants; I don't like the Haitians. I'm going to tell everyone that the world is coming to an end,'" Vorhees said. "That's the misinformation that people are talking about."

The increased social media traffic and promulgation of rumors finally prompted Vorhees to issue the open letter Friday in the hopes that it would set the record straight about this meeting.

"This is just a little citizens group that contact me and, like I said in the letter, talk about active shooter things, how to prepare yourself if we have a bad incident, and even preparedness for a tornado and things like that," he said. "It just ballooned into a lot, and I just can't believe it. It just shows you the power of social media and spreading misinformation."

According to Vorhees, the private meeting is still set to take place Sunday at the Wapakoneta American Legion Annex.