MENDOTA -- Can it happen here?

That’s the question visitors to the Mendota Sweet Corn Festival are asking after a threat was posted to social media Wednesday night and shared hundreds of times before the festival opened Thursday evening.

Replies to the threat included a number of people who pledged to bring their own “protection” to the festival which draws more than 50,000 visitors between now and Sunday. With the public currently on edge from the shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio and stray gunshots hitting a downtown Mendota business Sunday morning, people are quick to share the post whether it's a credible threat or not.

The social media threat also follows hard on the heels of an arrest of a man who threatened to shoot up a McDonald's in Dixon

Mendota police chief Greg Kellen released a statement Thursday evening assuring residents and visitors the department was aware of the threat and that the source is reportedly a 17-year-old juvenile from the Chicago area.

“(He) is currently being sought by a number of law enforcement professionals who have been investigating this incident for several days including the La Salle County State’s Attorney’s office, Lee County Sheriff’s office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chicago Police Department Violent Crime Squad and Chicago Police Departmet Counter Terrorism Unit,” according to the statement.

“MPD is committed to the security of our city and to our festival attendees and are partnering with the Illinois State Police and the La Salle County Sheriff’s Department to assure (sic) the safety of all festival attendees,” the statement continues.

Kellen did commend the many concerned individuals who brought the threat to the attention of the police department.

“As always, if you see suspicious activity, and are aware of threats to our community, always report these incidents immediately to law enforcement officials,” he said.

The festival is sponsored by the Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce. Kate Fox, CEO and president said she had no comment other than that they were working closely with the Mendota Police Department.

Tamara Abbey can be reached by calling or texting (815) 539-5200 or mendota@newstrib.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_Mendota.

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