17-year-old student in custody, connected to social media threats against multiple schools on Wednesday
Posted September 23, 2021 10:51 a.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2021 7:15 p.m. EDT
A 17-year-old high school student has been charged and taken into secured custody in connection with social media threats of mass violence at Smithfield-Selma High School, South Johnston High School and Corinth Holders High School on Wednesday.
Detectives with the Johnston County Sheriff's Office took the juvenile into custody late Wednesday afternoon. The individual is being held in a juvenile detention facility in Raleigh.
Video showed parents rushing to grab their children before the end of the school day after the schools ended their brief lockdown, once the threats were determined to not be credible.
"Juveniles assume that because of their age there are few swift penalties associated with their crimes," said officials in a statement. "However, as yesterday’s investigation shows, deputies will work hard to ensure that even juveniles will be held accountable for their actions."
Sheriff Bizzell said, "We continue to see, much too often, disruptions in our classrooms, including social media threats of violence. Students, school staff, parents and grandparents, law enforcement, and our communities as a whole, are tired of seeing our students being fearful in an environment where they should feel safe to learn."
Johnston County Public School officials encouraged parents and guardians to speak with their students about the severe consequences of making threats, whether when speaking to other students or commenting on social media.
Bizzell said his deputies will continue to use their expertise to track down individuals – including juveniles – who are terrorizing students. He said they will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
Threats have been reported at schools in Cumberland, Nash, Harnett, Johnston and Wake counties over the past week.
Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly said students who made bomb and school shooting threats will be found.
"When they do things on social media, they are creating a digial footprint and this stuff can be traced back to them," said Connelly.
Connelly said he hopes that students knowing they'll be tracked down and the threat of expulsion will deter anyone else from making threats.
"It's not a joke for TikTok or anything else," he added.