This week, Wayne County Public Schools and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office have responded to threats and rumors of threats at Charles B. Aycock High School, all of which have been hoaxes.
“The first social media threat hoax occurred on Wednesday afternoon and essentially stated that a shooting was going to occur on Thursday at the school,” stated Ken Derksen, WCPS Executive Director. “As is our protocol, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office was immediately notified to begin a full investigation. During the investigation, a second social media threat began circulating at the school on Friday.”
Investigators with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office state that students shared two separate Snapchat screenshots that appeared to be communicating a threat of violence at the school. Deputies from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office responded to provide extra security and initiate an investigation. During the course of the investigation it was determined that a copy-cat crime had occurred with the intent to create fear and panic. This was coupled with the rapid spread of false information that a student was caught in the bathroom with a gun. At this time there is no credible threat of violence at Charles B. Aycock High School.
“It is very disturbing that anyone would want to purposely disrupt the school day and create unnecessary alarm amongst students, families and staff in this manner,” states Dr. David Lewis, superintendent. “We appreciate the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for providing extra law enforcement this week and next week as we work to alleviate any residual concerns. More than that, we appreciate the investigators who ultimately determined where the social media threats generated from and that they were never originally written for CBA.”
Law enforcement officials warn that threats of violence against schools, even those that turn out to be false or misinterpreted, are thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and can lead to severe consequences.
“We take all threats very seriously,” stated Sheriff Larry Pierce. “Spreading false messages on social media is dangerous for parents, students, and first responders. If you see something suspicious online, you should immediately report it to school officials for a proper investigation to take place.”
In addition to potential criminal charges, district officials state that students who are caught making threats or purposely creating rumors of threats at school will face disciplinary action in accordance with Board of Education policies.
“This week’s threats have cost CBA students valuable instructional time and have unnecessarily redirected law enforcement attention and resources,” adds Dr. Lewis. “While we hope no student would jeopardize their education and their future by involving themselves in this type of criminal conduct, disciplinary consequences for one who is caught can ultimately lead to a 365 suspension from school in addition to any criminal consequences they have to face.”
Anyone with information regarding these incidents is asked to contact Detective Sgt. Matthew Sellers with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office at (919) 731-1375.