Rumors of threat spread to Hephzibah High School

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:41 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 1:31 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Rumors of school threats continued Wednesday in Richmond County, a day after the same problem sent parents into panic mode Tuesday.

The focus of attention Wednesday was Hephzibah High. Parents provided News 12 with a message from the principal stating that the school is “investigating a rumor of a potential threat made against our school that students are circulating via text message.”

The message continues that no employees or students were thought to be in danger but that out of an abundance of caution, extra security personnel were on campus.

A school district spokeswoman told News 12 that Hephzibah High “is not on lockdown status” but she did verify the authenticity of the principal’s message.

Although four schools were affected by similar rumors Tuesday, the main focus then was Josey High School, the site of one of two recent shootings at Richmond County football games.


Richmond County School System spokeswoman Lynthia Ross said the rumors started swirling Tuesday morning on social media involving Josey plus Murphey Middle School, Lucy C. Laney High School and Glenn Hills High School.

“Though we do not believe the threat or rumors made today are credible, we take every report of a threat seriously and investigate every incident fully,” Ross said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Out of an abundance of caution, when threats are reported, we take additional safety measures to protect our students and staff.”

Ross said: “We take all threats seriously and work to resolve them quickly.”

She said in instances like these, the district notifies families and takes measures to limit student movement and access to campuses.

“If access to a school facility is limited, it is to maintain order in the school and to respond to incidents using a safety-first approach,” Ross said.

At least one of the parents may have gotten into Josey without the school’s consent — or at least not left when she was asked to. A widely circulated Facebook video shows a confrontation between a woman and officers that included the woman falling to the floor and then being taken away by officers.

Christine Jennifer Torres was arrested and charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Ross said the district asks that all family members or visitors to school campuses support school employees and security officers “by following their directions patiently as they work to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”

During the lockdown at Josey, the district said additional security personnel were on campus in response to a potential threat that was “believed to have been made in response to a fight that occurred in the community.”

In the early afternoon at Josey, parents were outside the building along with about 25 students. Youths with backpacks were walking around on campus just outside.

At least five school district police cars were on the scene, and a few bystanders were watching from across the street.

Josey was the site of a shooting that injured two people on Saturday at a tailgate party after the school’s homecoming football game. That came only hours after a shooting outside Laney High School that injured no one.

Richmond County is one of the few school systems in the CSRA that have not enacted recent restrictions on patrons at football games. The restrictions range from requiring that personal belongings be carried in clear bags to requiring parental accompaniment of teenagers.