Security analyst, forensic psychiatrist weigh in on threats happening in multiple WBTV-area school districts

Law enforcement agencies in Iredell, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, and Gaston county are investigating threats.
Three Charlotte schools were placed on lockdown Wednesday morning following police activity in Steele Creek.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:17 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Law enforcement agencies have investigated threats made against and near eight schools this week.

Those schools are North Mecklenburg High and Hough High School in Mecklenburg County, Mooresville High School in Iredell County, W.C. Friday Middle School in Gaston County, and Cox Mill Elementary, Cox Mill High School, Jay M. Robinson High School, and Northwest Cabarrus High School in Cabarrus County.

Officials say these threats were false but are still being investigated and the suspects will be penalized.

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 and is punishable by up to 39 months in prison.

Cabarrus County 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.

WBTV’s security analyst and founder/CEO of Karl de la Guerra Inc., says bomb threat hoaxes are not funny and these incidents are still investigated thoroughly regardless of how many false threats are happening.

“If you’re going to err you need to err on the side of safety and that’s exactly what law enforcement is doing here; “The children’s safety is the number one priority,” de la Guerra said.

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

Cabarrus County School officials confirmed Wednesday was the third day in a row that at least one school received a bomb threat. Northwest Cabarrus received a written threat Monday and Tuesday. Cox Mill High School was evacuated twice on Tuesday and once on Wednesday. Jay M. Robinson High School and Cox Mill Elementary School were evacuated after receiving phone call threats on Tuesday.

Mooresville High School was evacuated Tuesday after receiving a threat and Gaston County Police say W.C. Friday Middle received a social media threat Wednesday morning.

Also on Wednesday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School officials said police were investigating North Mecklenburg and Hough High Schools after bomb threats were made.

Officials say these threats were not made directly toward the two schools but were investigated by CMS Police, Cornelius Police, CMPD, and Huntersville Police out of an abundance of caution. Police swept the buildings before students arrived and nothing was found.

Dr. Park Dietz is the founder of Threat Assessment Group, President of Park Dietz & Associates, and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. He has consulted in all 50 states and has studied threats and violent crimes including the Charleston Church massacre and the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Dietz agrees it is not uncommon to see false threats, but these incidents will be investigated by local, state, and federal agencies.

“Statistically the likelihood of a bomb threat being associated with a destructive device is very low. At the same time every single one of these has to be investigated,” Dietz said.

Threats at three Cabarrus County Schools were robocalls. Security analyst Karl de La Guerra says those same phone calls can be used in an investigation.

“If the phone call is received at the school through a landline don’t hang up,” he said. “Sometimes that open line can assist law enforcement with that, but it is very difficult to trace back electronically where that call came from.”

Dietz says all motives aren’t the same and can be complex. Through his studies, he’s found many perpetrators make threats to be excused from an obligation such as work or an exam or often because of their own behavior.

“Anxiety makes them more likely to do something like this when upset. It also causes more anxiety among the other students,” Dietz said.

Whether it’s a phone call, note, or social media post - de la Guerra says being aware of your surroundings is key and might help you spot the perp.

“The biggest assistance that folks at campus can give to law enforcement even before an event, is to be aware of your surroundings like they say if you see something, say something,” de la Guerra said.

CMPD assisted the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office and Concord Police Department on Tuesday. Both Cabarrus and Concord are communicating with the FBI about these threats.

CMPD assisted with the investigations at CMS schools Wednesday. CMS Police have not contacted the FBI as of Wednesday afternoon.

CMS confirmed that they are communicating with Mooresville Graded School District and Cabarrus County Schools leadership about the threats that have been made at their schools.