CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools police announced that they are investigating recent threats on social media being made against area schools.
CMPD Chief Vicki Foster spoke at a Thursday morning press conference addressing the threats. She addressed a specific threat made against Southwest Middle School which was posted on Snapchat, and said detectives worked throughout the night to find who was responsible and made an arrest.
She said a 14-year-old student at the school posted the threat and has been charged with making a false report of mass violence on school property, which is a felony.
Foster said another person was also being interviewed but had not been charged.
Foster told Channel 9 the threat was generic in nature but stressed, “In light of recent events (Florida school shooting) we are taking everything very seriously.”
Police said many parents who learned about the threat decided to keep their children home from school Thursday.
Foster said Snapchat worked with law enforcement to help identify the student, which led to an arrest.
“Today’s arrest will be an eye-opener for a lot of students as well as their parents,” Foster said. “We want them to understand that it’s very serious and we are taking it very seriously. We want people to understand that we are very serious about the safety of the schools and that we will respond in this manner to every single response that we get. So the kids need to understand that any jokes, any games, anything that they think is funny that they want to post is going to get investigated and they will be held responsible.”
Earlier Thursday morning, CMS sent the following message to families, students and staff at Southwest Middle School:
"Southwest Middle School families,
"I am calling to update you on security and safety at Southwest Middle. After an investigation by law enforcement, a juvenile arrest has been made in connection with threats made to the Southwest school community on social media.
"CMS and law enforcement will pursue maximum punishment under criminal law and the student code of conduct.
"I want to be clear with everyone - threats of any kind and possession of weapons of any type will not be tolerated. ALL threats, even casual or passed off as jokes, will be investigated and prosecuted aggressively. Counseling and support are available for any student or staff member who wishes to talk.
"We look forward now to returning our Southwest community focus to teaching and learning. Thank you for your support of Southwest Middle School."
List of threats CMPD, FBI are investigating:
Police told Channel 9 that they are working with the FBI to investigate the following threats:
- On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 10:40 a.m., Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Police Department officers were notified of student that brought a weapon onto the campus of South Mecklenburg High School, located at 8900 Park Road. During the investigation, CMSPD identified a suspect and located a firearm in their vehicle. The student left the firearm in his vehicle while he attended baseball practice. The student, identified as Fernando Vasquez, was arrested and charged with Possession of a Firearm on Educational Property. The firearm was seized and turned in as evidence.
- On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 2:04 p.m., the School Resource Officer at Kennedy Middle School, located at 4000 Gallant Lane, received information that several students were throwing food and other objects striking a victim in the back of the head while in a classroom. While walking out of the classroom, the victim was slapped across the back of the head and turned and made a comment to the students. This investigation is still active and ongoing at this time.
- On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at around 9:30 a.m., the School Resource Officer at Community Middle House School was advised that there was a threat made involving shooting a school bus. The SRO and the principal made contact with a student who they believe was responsible for the threats and spoke with their parents. Officers are following up with the student and his family this morning before he is allowed back on campus. Last night at 10:27 p.m., South Division patrol officers responded to communicating threats call for service. While speaking with the reporting person, they stated that the received a Snapchat from a subject that threatened the students at Community Middle House School, located at 9500 Community House Road.
- On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 5:25 p.m., Steele Creek division officers responded to Southwest Middle School, located at 13624 Steele Creek Road, in reference to a communicating threats call for service. The reporting person stated that they received a message on a social media site that was threatening violence at the school. As a result of information and evidence gathered during this investigation, detectives have charged a 14-year-old female juvenile in connection with the threats.
On Wednesday, school district officials released the following statement:
"CMSPD and CMPD are aware of threats made through social media today and this matter is under active investigation.
"While the district does not have particular reason to believe the most recent threat to be credible, the district does take all threats made to students and staff seriously and all threats are investigated immediately and aggressively by law enforcement.
"Threats to schools are felony crimes and persons making threats to schools are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Anyone making a threat, even in a joking manner, should expect swift response from authorities and maximum enforcement measures taken to protect the safety and security of CMS students and staff across the district.
"Should there be credible cause for concern, CMS will alert families and appropriate action will be taken with the priority of student safety first."
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