Multiple area schools evacuated due to threats in Cabarrus and Iredell counties

District officials said they continue to work with the Concord Police Department and the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Department to investigate.
More than a dozen Cox Mill Elementary School parents waited on pins and needles Tuesday morning after learning a threat was made against their children's school
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:30 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
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CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) – Four Cabarrus County schools have been evacuated Tuesday morning due to threats, district officials said.

Between 9:30 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, Jay M. Robinson High School, Cox Mill High School, Cox Mill Elementary School, and Northwest Cabarrus High School were all evacuated out of an abundance of caution after bomb threats were communicated to each location.

Jay M. Robinson, Cox Mill High, and Cox Mill Elementary received phone threats. The threat to Northwest Cabarrus High School was a written note.

Desmond Barringer has two children at Cox Mill Elementary School and says he immediately rushed to the area as soon as he heard about the threats.

“Lord let me babies be safe, so I immediately started praying and just trusting they would be okay,” Barringer said. “As a parent, you want to make sure your kids are safe so I came on up.”

Bhumi Patel’s daughter is in kindergarten at Cox Mill Elementary. She waited on pins and needles Tuesday morning waiting to hear if the students and staff were safe.

“As soon as I heard the news the first thing that came to [my mind] is I just hope all the kids are safe,” Patel said.

Concord Police Department and Cabarrus Sheriff’s Office responded immediately and worked to ensure the facilities were safe for students. All schools were cleared and students returned to the building beginning at 10:18 a.m., with Cox Mill Elementary. Jay M. Robinson students were cleared to return at 10:49 A.M., followed by Northwest Cabarrus High at 11:10 a.m. and Cox Mill HS at 11:20 a.m.

There will be increased security around other schools in the district tomorrow.

Cox Mill HS was evacuated for a second time at 12:08 p.m., for a second phone threat, which was also found to be unsubstantiated after being cleared by law enforcement. Cox Mill HS released students at normal dismissal time from their evacuation site at 2:15.

Vinutha Peddapalli has one child at Cox Mill High School. She and her husband were worried after learning about the first threat and she went back to school hours later after hearing about the second threat.

“Today we heard this news and tomorrow we have to send the kids to school. I don’t know how everybody is thinking about this, it’s not good at all,” Peddapalli said.

Peddapalli’s seventh-grade daughter Angela was also alarmed and says whoever made these threats needs to stop making them and that they will be punished.

“It’s not a game, it’s not funny because the person is going to get in trouble and whether or not it was fake or doesn’t matter because lives are stake,” Angela said.

Tuesday also marked the second day in a row that Northwest Cabarrus High had to be evacuated because of a threat. Officials said they identified an individual for threats at this school and are pursuing charges against them

“Be assured, the individual or individuals who have disrupted our student’s right to an education, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. John Kopicki. “We want to thank our fantastic law enforcement who have given us support and guidance during these events. We thank our students and staff for their patience and cooperation. It is horrendous that an individual or individuals would disrupt the learning our children deserve.”

Sheriff Van Shaw says they have identified an individual who made the threats against Northwest Cabarrus High School. He says this person is likely a student.

“We’ve resolved that, they were false threats and we have identified an individual, we are proceeding with the investigation, and we will be charging that individual,” Shaw said.

District officials said they continue to work with the Concord Police Department and the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Department to investigate. They have also contacted the FBI.

Sheriff Van Shaw says this is a felony punishable by up to 39 months in prison. Shaw says they will have deputies near and at schools tomorrow.

“We’ll be prepared tomorrow,” Shaw said. “We’ll have individuals that are out there, resources in close proximity to the schools if not at the schools so that they can respond and be there and also help the parents that are dropping their kids off so they can feel confident that we are doing everything we can to address this situation.”

According to NC general statute 14-277.6 it is a felony to communicate threats of mass violence to an educational institution including extracurricular activities that are put on by educational institutions.

“It is a class H felony to report a false threat of mass violence on educational property,” Shaw said. “That does take in extracurricular activities and those types of things. To give you some idea it is punishable for up to approximately 39 months in prison so any school investigation related to this I’ve already talked with our elected district attorney.”

Additionally, officials with the Mooresville Graded School District said Mooresville High School was evacuated due to a threat, according to Mooresville Police.

Iredell County bomb-trained K9s were brought in at 10:15 a.m. Due to the length of time needed to adequately clear the building, the decision was made to dismiss MHS. Dismissal and reunification were complete at 11:16 a.m. Law enforcement cleared the facilities at 1:04 p.m., finding no evidence of explosive devices.

It’s the latest string of North Carolina schools to deal with threats this year.

Back in April, the Henderson County sheriff said 16 school threats had been made across the state over the span of a week, including three western N.C. schools that were impacted.

Check back with WBTV for updates as they come in.