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Update: Posts threatened multiple schools

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Parents leave South Central High School with their children after a threatening photo alarmed students and faculty Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

A social media post threatening violence at South Central High School today also was used to threaten other Pitt County Schools, officials said.

The photo was an altered version of one originally posted on Snapchat by a student in South Carolina shortly after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The original photo showed the student holding an assault rifle with a caption that read “Florida Round 2.” That student was arrested.

A post distributed on Snapchat today showed the same image with a caption that read “South Central High Monday 2:45,” prompting officials to increase security there and other schools. Officials later determined that the photo had been altered to make similar threats at J.H. Rose High School according to a statement released this afternoon.

The text of the statement follows:

“Since a social media threat referencing South Central High School earlier this morning, school officials and local law enforcement have been made aware of similar threats toward other schools within the Pitt County Schools district. As a result, there will be an increased law enforcement presence throughout the district as investigators work to determine the source of the threats. Investigators are currently following up on several leads. As a reminder, simply posting a false threat is considered a class H felony in the state of North Carolina. Such actions are not to be taken lightly.

“School administrators and law enforcement agencies across Pitt County are working collaboratively to help ensure the safety and well-being of each and every student and employee. Together, we will see to it that anyone found to be responsible for the posts will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“The photo that has been commonly included in the postings is actually of a student from a South Carolina school who was arrested last week. He posted the photo in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Snapchat is cooperating with the investigation and has informed local officers that they have received similar reports across the country since the arrest of this young man in South Carolina.

“Communication continues to be our greatest tool in preventing acts of school violence. If you or your child see something that is suspicious or concerning, please report it to law enforcement and/or school officials. We also ask that our community come together during this time to support one another and stand together. We will not allow these individuals to manipulate our love for our children and paralyze our community by inciting fear.

“We thank you for allowing us to continue to serve our wonderful community!”

Previous story

A photo posted on social media has prompted school officials and police to increase security at South Central High School, and police are at the school now trying to determine who is responsible.

The photo was an altered version of one originally posted on Snapchat by a student in South Carolina shortly after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The original photo showed the student holding an assault rifle with a caption that read “Florida Round 2.” That student was arrested.

A post distributed on Snapchat today showed the same image with a caption that read “South Central High Monday 2:45,” Pitt County Schools spokesman Travis Lewis said.

South Central High School Principal Janarde Cannon was made aware of the threat about 8:45 a.m. An automated phone call went out to parents at the school about 10 a.m. explaining the photo and informing them that security had been increased, Lewis said.

Some parents since then have been coming to the school to sign out their children, according to Lewis. Several students were leaving the school about 10:45 a.m. according to reports from the scene. The school is not on lockdown.

Cannon said at the scene that all pickups are voluntary.

The Greenville Police Department confirmed in a 10:30 a.m. news release that the image that has been shared originated in South Carolina and the individual depicted in the photo was arrested by authorities in Spartanburg County late last week.

“Filing a false report of mass violence on educational property is considered a Class H Felony in the State of North Carolina,” the release went on to say. “The Greenville Police Department is working diligently to identify the person responsible for sharing the image locally, with the included reference to South Central High School.”

As a precaution, the department will have place uniformed officers at all schools within the city until further notice, the release said. “There is no higher priority than the safety and security of our children.”

The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office also placed officers at all county schools, and Winterville police posted officers at Creekside and W.H. Robinson elementary schools and A.G. Cox Middle School and the Boys & Girls Club’s Jack Minges Unit. Farmville police posted officers at the schools there.

Farmville Chief Donnie Greene also said that a choir concert for all district elementary schools scheduled at South Central today was canceled because of the incident.

The Associated Press reported that the South Carolina high school student was charged with disturbing schools. The freshman told authorities the posting was meant to be a joke.

Spartanburg County Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Kevin Bobo said in a statement the Broome High School student’s parent alerted deputies about the social media threat Wednesday night. Bobo says the Snapchat photo depicted a student wearing a mask and holding an assault rifle.

Spartanburg School District 3 spokeswoman Sherri Horton tells the Spartanburg Herald-Journal the threat was nonetheless being taken seriously. She said the timing of the message, which came just hours after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, heightened the perception of the threat.

Previous Story

An automated phone call from South Central High School informed parents that security has been increased at the school due to an internet posting.

A call went out to parents about 10 a.m. informing them of a threatening photo in circulation that says “South Central High Monday 2:45,” Pitt County Schools spokesman Travis Lewis said.

The photo is an altered image of one made by a young man from South Carolina holding an assault rifle. He was arrested last week after the Florida shooting for making threats against a schools in South Carolina.

The photo was altered to make a threat against South Central. The Greenville Police Department is on campus trying to figure out who made altered and distributed the photo, Lewis said.

The principal was made award of the posting about 8:45 a.m., Lewis said.

A few parents have come and signed out their children, Lewis said. The school is not on lock down but Greenville police have an increased presence at the school.

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