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Police said a 17-year-old Garner Magnet High School student has been taken into custody.
Garner Police identified the suspect as Judah Alexander Dennis, of the 100 block of Bayberry Lane in Garner.
GPD has made an arrest in the incident involving the online threat to students. Suspect is 17 yo GMHS student. More info soon.— Garner Police (@GarnerPolice) August 31, 2017
Dennis was charged with one count of making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property, a Class H felony. The charges stem from 3 online threats allegedly posted by Dennis to Snapchat using the fake name "Jacob Ellington" during the early evening hours of Wednesday.
Garner High Principal Carter Hillman said Wednesday that "Ellington" is not a student at any WCPSS school.
Dennis was taken into custody at his residence shortly before midnight.
The Garner Police department had additional police presence at Garner schools Thursday, Hillman said, to reduce concerns and to provide overall safety.
In a message to parents, Hillman said he has been made aware of screenshots of several Snapchats that included the threats. He said he contacted police as soon as he became aware of the messages.
GPD is aware of a threat on social media at GMHS. We are working w/ @WCPSS to investigate. Pls. email any info to GPDtips@garnernc.gov— Garner Police (@GarnerPolice) August 31, 2017
Wanda Wilkerson, Dennis's grandmother, said the messages were a prank.
"He's a very good kid, very good kid. He's been in school. He's not been in trouble, has never, ever, ever been in trouble with the law at all. But playing games and doing stupid little kinks can cause you to get in a lot of trouble. What he thought was a joke now has the ability to stay as stigma on his life. So I just want to admonish young people and parents, please make sure what your children are doing on the Internet," she said.
Some students seemed to agree that it was likely a prank.
"I didn't really think it was a sincere threat because the guy that did it, I've been going to school with him since like seventh grade," said student Sal-Bey Young. "I didn't really believe that he was a threat to the school."
One mother, Camelita Hairston, didn't find the idea of a prank amusing.
"I don't like it," Hairston said. "I'm actually here to get (my son) now because he's very nervous about being here. And I don't know if he had any other people in on it. So that makes me nervous. So I'm here to pick up my son and take him home."
Hillman asked parents to remind students to not share rumors and perpetuate fear on social media.
On Thursday, Wake County Superintendent Dr. James Merrill sent a letter home to parents letting them know that threats like this are taken seriously.
He wrote, "Parents and guardians, please know and share with your students that we take all these threats seriously and investigate fully. Not only are consequences delivered by the schools, but where feasible law enforcement, at our urging, will seek to prosecute."
Click here to see Merrill's full letter.
Schools operated on schedule Thursday.
Garner Police ask that anyone with information on this investigation call (919) 772-8810 ext. 0 or email info to GPDtips@garnernc.gov.