Pair of students nabbed in separate threats at 2 local schools
WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Authorities made progress Monday in cracking down on a rash of threats at local schools, detaining a Burke County teen and a McDuffie County student.
The Burke County 16-year-old was taken into custody Monday in connection with a threat at Cross Creek High School in Augusta.
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Richmond County School System’s safety and security staff regarding the threat on Yik Yak that said: “I’m shootin’ up Cross Creek High School Monday. Be ready.”
Richmond County school investigators analyzed telecommunications data that led them to Burke County.
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office took the 16-year-old from Burke County High School for questioning.
Once his parents were present, the juvenile was interviewed and he subsequently admitted sending the threat, Sheriff Alfonzo Williams said.
The juvenile will be released to the custody of the Richmond County School System and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and later detained at the Regional Youth Detention Center, Williams said.
Similar cases at Burke County High School are still open and unsolved. That series of threats last week led to the cancellation of class Friday.
“We are continuing to work with our local, state and federal partners to identify the person(s) responsible for the Yik Yak and email threats. Several businesses and community members have added to the reward,” Williams said.
As a result, the reward now stands at $4,000 for information leading to an arrest.
“BCSO is working with BPS to ensure a safe learning environment for our students, staff, faculty and community. We ask that all personnel remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or pertinent information to school personnel or law enforcement,” Williams said.
Also targeted last week in a threat scribbled on a restroom wall was Hephzibah High School In Richmond County.
And about a month ago, schools in Jenkins County closed for a time after threats were emailed.
In McDuffie County
A Thomson-McDuffie Middle School student sent another student an email Monday morning threatening violence within the school, the McDuffie County School District said.
The threat was reported immediately to school personnel and the sender of the email was detained at once by the school resource officer.
No weapons were found on the student, the district said.
All students and staff are safe and the student posing the threat has been removed, the district said.
What you can do
Williams and the McDuffie County School System both issued statements calling on parents and the community to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious.
“We are asking you to help law enforcement by talking to your children about goings-on around the country and our state related to school safety, threats and appropriate responses,” Williams told parents. “Please review safety protocols with them and explain the necessity of reporting suspicious behavior and reporting to a responsible adult any threats to the learning environment.”
He said it’s important for parents to talk with their children about the proper use of social media and technology inside and outside of school.
“Parents can further help law enforcement by checking book bags and backpacks, maintaining an open dialogue with children, school personnel and law enforcement,” he said.
The McDuffie County district said it encourages parents to talk to kids about reporting any instances of threats or potential violence to school or district personnel immediately, as the threatened student did on Monday.
“As always, safety is our top priority,” the district said.
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