Student charged with felony following false threats at Union County school
This comes after the school district was notified Wednesday night about a potential threat involving a firearm.
UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Officials are charging a student with a felony after false threats were made at a school in Union County Thursday.
Late Wednesday afternoon, a Piedmont Middle School student used the “Say Something Anonymous Reporting System” app and social media to claim something involving a gun would happen on the Piedmont High and/or Middle School campus Thursday.
Union County deputies and Union County Public Schools staff immediately began investigating the threat by reviewing school surveillance footage and conducting interviews with the reporting student.
The investigation continued late into Wednesday evening and deputies were unable to corroborate any of the statements provided by the reporting party or the circumstances surrounding the threat reported by the student.
On Thursday morning, deputies reinterviewed the student who they say ultimately confessed to fabricating the threat.
The student was charged with felony making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property.
The suspect’s name will not be released due to his age.
Deputies say no information or evidence was found that would indicate a gun was ever on the campus of Piedmont High or Middle School.
During the investigation of the Piedmont threats, deputies received similar reports concerning Porter Ridge High and Parkwood High which were reported late Wednesday evening.
Once again, deputies and school district staff immediately began investigating these threats and found the following.
The Porter Ridge High School threat was reported by a student who said they overheard other students talking about a school shooting.
The reporting student, believing the other students were talking about a shooting at PRHS, went home and began warning others about the perceived threat.
Deputies determined that the two students whom the reporting party overheard were in fact discussing the recent shooting in Michigan and had no intentions of harming others at PRHS.
This threat was unsubstantiated and did not result in any criminal charges due to the misunderstanding. No information or evidence was found that would indicate a gun was ever on the campus of Porter Ridge High School.
The Parkwood High School threat was reported by a student after they learned of the threats regarding Piedmont High School.
Deputies determined that no threat of violence stemmed from within Parkwood High School.
This threat was also unsubstantiated and no criminal charges will be filed due to the misunderstanding.
No information or evidence was found that would indicate a gun was ever on the campus of Parkwood High School.
Officials say the school resource officers take all threats against schools seriously and conduct timely and thorough investigations for each reported threat.
“Sadly, in this series of threats, a student fabricated threats which caused a great deal of fear, confusion and panic within our community. The UCSO would like to take this time to remind parents and guardians to speak with their children about being truthful when reporting things to school staff and law enforcement. We also request that parents and guardians closely monitor their children’s social media accounts to prevent the dissemination of false information. While social media is a great way to spread information quickly, it can also become a source of unwarranted panic and fear when not utilized responsibly. The UCSO will continue to criminally charge anyone who fabricates and distributes false threats of violence or criminal activity against our schools,” a press release reads.
UCPS sent out the following letter to parents.
Over the past few days, several of our schools have been impacted by reports related to threats, messages and posts on social media. School safety is extremely important to all of us and we take each report seriously. When we receive a report, several law enforcement officers and school administrators are involved in the investigation and it takes time and resources to follow up and get to the facts.
We are finding that more students are creating false reports and using social media to create videos on Snapchat and other platforms to spread information that is not true. When this happens, it creates chaos, interrupts instructional time, generates rumors in our community and takes away resources from other important school and community matters.
This is unacceptable and this behavior will not be tolerated in our schools. We need all students and staff to feel safe at school.
Parents, we need your help and we need it now. It takes all of us to create and maintain a safe school environment. We need you to talk to your children about being responsible on social media and to think twice before they post. Please monitor their social media pages and help them to understand that posting threats and other false information can lead to serious consequences.
Students who violate the Student Code of Conduct will receive the appropriate consequences and, in some cases, charges from law enforcement could be pursued.
Let’s work together to keep our schools safe.
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