Law enforcement warns that school threats bring dire consequences

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023
School threats bring dire consequences, officials warn students
A spate of violent threats in February prompted several schools across the Triangle to go on lockdown

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A spate of violent threats in February prompted several schools across the Triangle to go on lockdown, including in Wake County, where some schools were forced to dismiss early.

Wake Forest Middle School was the latest on Tuesday to have extra security on campus after a threat was posted on social media on Monday.

"School's pretty dangerous these days," Wake County schools student Johnathan Cimmerer said. "Got to be careful while you're in school cause people can be carrying something and you wouldn't know."

While law enforcement found a majority of these threats to be false, state and local officials are pressed to hold those who make the threats accountable.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said the juvenile system in North Carolina is more "rehabilitative than punitive," which would give individuals a chance to change their behavior in lieu of jail time. However, Freeman said consequences depend on a case by case basis.

"Depending on whether the individual is in the adult system or the juvenile system, and what their prior history is, it's really going to dictate what happens with that individual," Freeman said. "Children under the age of 10, are not going to be prosecuted for certain offenses."

Making a threat is a Class H felony which for juveniles, is typically punishable by probation and mental health assessments and treatments, according to Freeman.

"If it's an adult system charge, we're going to be asking for restitution," Freeman said.

There have been several cases across the Triangle where a gun was brought to school, including at Rolesville High School. Officials said a student is facing disciplinary action, but there's consequences for adults who failed to secure their firearms.

"When there is a weapon on school property, and we can determine that it is because an adult failed to secure a firearm, or safely secure a firearm that we're going to charge that adult," Freeman said.

The Wake County Public School System said they're looking at ways to work with state lawmakers to see how laws can be strengthened to address those responsible for these criminal acts, but asked the community to join their efforts in making schools safer.

Agencies such as the Wake County Sheriff's Office and Raleigh Police said they're working closely with school officials to investigate any threat and identify anyone involved.

"The first line of defense starts at home by ensuring minors do not have access to weapons," the Wake County Sheriff's Office said.

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