Email threat against Burke County schools deemed not credible
WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Burke County School System increased law enforcement on campus after the district received an email threat Tuesday morning.
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office says the email was sent at 12:15 a.m. Tuesday and was first seen by school officials and law enforcement later at 8:15 a.m.
Officials say while the threat did not mention a specific school, there would be additional law enforcement presence on campuses Tuesday out of an abundance of caution.
According to authorities, the email threat read: “At 10:30 am a car will drive into as many students as possible as they try to leave. If you try and evacuate them the driver will get out and shoot any student leaving. You have a choice here, you can ignore this email and risk the lives of the students you say you care for, or you can listen to what we are telling you. The only way out is to go out with a BANG.”
Superintendent Dr. Angela Williams informed parents in a Facebook post, asking parents to not come to the school to pick up children but to continue to remind them about the importance of school safety and reporting any suspicious activity to an adult in the building.
During the investigation of the IP address connected to the email threat, the sheriff’s office determined the email was not sent from a local address and there was no credible threat found in this incident.
While the investigation continues, the sheriff’s office is continuing to offer a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for the threats.
Previous school threats in Burke County
An earlier rash of school threats in December of last year led to Burke County High School closing out of an abundance of caution.
Threats made against the school on the social media app Yik Yak, followed by an email warning the principal of a plan to shoot up the school led to students being sent home and increased campus security.
A separate threat circulated around Burke County Middle School around the same time. A parent of a student at the middle school reported suspicious activity to administrators, after discovering a PowerPoint circulating among several students.
Within the PowerPoint were several meaningless phrases, emojis, and images of monkeys. Of the 27 slides in the presentation, one depicted a monkey’s head on a human’s body holding a handgun and the phrase “Now you shoot up a school with 9mm.”
Meanwhile, a Burke County 16-year-old was taken into custody in connection with a threat at a Richmond County school in early December. The person used the Yik Yak app to communicate a threat that read, “I’m shootin’ up Cross Creek High School Monday. Be ready.”
Richmond County school investigators were able to develop sufficient leads based on telecommunications data which led them to the teenage suspect.
However, Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams later said the threats made against the Burke County Schools System in December were not credible.
He issued a statement calling on parents and the community to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious.
“Furthermore, 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,” he 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.
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