Nonspecific threat to shoot up school Friday circulates in multiple states including North Carolina

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Friday, May 5, 2023
Nonspecific threat to shoot up schools circulates in NC, nation
Multiple schools across North Carolina and the rest of the country saw increased security.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Schools nationwide including dozens in the Triangle increased police presence Friday after a social media threat.

Several social media threats circulated appearing to target several campuses.

Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson posted a picture of the threat on social media. It shows white writing on a blue background that threatens a shooting at school Friday morning at 7:40 "as soon as the bell rings."

Roberson said the same message has been passed around in multiple states.

Students at Sanderson, Leesville, and Heritage high schools among others arrived Friday to find at least one police cruiser on campus.

Sanderson High School in Raleigh confirmed Thursday it was aware of the social media post and would be increasing security as a caution. Principals at various schools communicated that the threat was unspecified, but enhanced security out of an abundance of caution after working with law enforcement

The principal of Leesville Road High School sent a message to families informing them of the threat, and reassuring them steps were being taken to keep all students safe.

"Early indications are that this is a hoax but out of an abundance of caution, a request for extra security has been placed," Principal Ian Solomon wrote. "The safety of our students and total school community is paramount. Please be assured that every resource available to us to keep our students safe regarding this matter will be utilized."

Social media threats, increased police, and active shooter drills are on the rise and are all too common. Pediatric psychologist Dr. Jessica Tomasula with WakeMed Childrens Hospital explained that these events can take a toll and talking about it is key.

"This is a very real thing that I hear about all the time," Tomasula said. "In some cases, students do say that they experience increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. Others say they feel more prepared. But, we have to have open communication and to be able to support them and help them by using open-ended questions like How do you feel? How does that make you feel even sharing from a parent's perspective how that may make them feel depending on the age of the kids."

This latest threat comes in the wake of some recent lockdowns, including one at Middle Creek High School where a student brought at BB gun onto campus.

In addition, the FBI recently confirmed that school threats were on the rise, with nearly 6,000 school-related threats reported in 2022, a 60% increase from 2021.

According to a spokesperson for Wake County Public Schools, each school in Wake County has at least one code red drill a year coordinated with law enforcement and emergency responders.

Principals communicate with families typically after the drill has concluded.