In the days since a deadly mass shooting at a south Florida high school, school communities have taken the mantra of "see something, say something" to heart, as they combat a flood of fake threats against metro Atlanta schools.
On Feb. 14, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire, killing 17 students. Since the shooting, students across the country have mobilized to call for changes in current gun laws to keep another mass shooting from happening on a school campus ever again. (Here's how local school districts are handling student walkouts.)
However, it seems the after-effects of the school shooting have also included an uptick in threats against schools circulating on social media apps.
Here in metro Atlanta, local law enforcement have investigated at least 26 cases of threats against schools. While most of the threats have not turned out to be credible, law enforcement and school officials are taking them seriously.
"School safety is everyone’s business," said one statement from Atlanta Public Schools after several of their schools were threatened. "The posting or re-posting of threats of violence against schools on social media is a criminal offense and APS will prosecute these incidents to the full extent of the law."
Below are all the alleged threats made against metro Atlanta schools since the Parkland, Florida shooting:
- The entire Polk County school system was placed on lockdown after an "anonymous threat of violence" against an unspecified school. Administration said the threat was received by a Rockmart High School student via Snapchat saying there would be a shooting at one of the schools, but did not say which one. Investigators are still trying to determine the source of the threat.
- An East Coweta High school student was arrested and removed from campus after being caught with a loaded 9mm handgun. There is no evidence the student made threats against the school. The campus was locked down for about 30 minutes, but no one was hurt.
- A North Paulding High School student was arrested after she allegedly claimed another student was armed with a gun. When first responders got to the scene, they were able to determine the threat was a hoax. They charged the 17-year-old with making false statements, false public alarm, disruption of a public school, and false report of a crime.
- Cobb County officials investigated to South Cobb High School in Austell after getting reports of a violent threat against the school. An investigation found a 15-year-old to be behind the threat, and officers said they will charge the teen.
- Peachtree Ridge High School officials said they were made aware of a social media threat alleging a violent act to take place at the school. School officials said the student named as the source of the threat was falsely implicated by a group of other students.
- Atlanta Public School officials said Tuesday they had identified the people involved in posting or reposting threats of violence against schools on social media. However, no additional information was released regarding the incident.
- Atlanta Public Schools confirmed they were investigating threats made on Instagram against several of its schools. They say the post, which threatened Maynard Jackson, South Atlanta, Carver and Washington High Schools, was made Friday, Feb. 23.
- Also on this day, 11Alive obtained a letter from the principal of South Gwinnett High School informing parents of a threat made on social media that caught the attention of a school resource officer and the Snellville Police Department.
- Investigators in Gwinnett investigated another threat, this time at North Gwinnett High School. School officials said they were aware of online rumors circulating and had spoken to the student who allegedly made the threat and that student's parents. No arrests were made.
- The Murray County Sheriff's Office confirmed they were investigating a claim of violence against the Murray County High School. Officials said the threat was allegedly written on a bathroom wall in a school in a neighboring county. It was then circulated on Snapchat and Facebook, but so far, it hasn't proven to be credible. Investigators have interviewed multiple people, but have not identified the person responsible, yet.
- A student at Dunwoody High School was arrested for bringing knives onto school grounds. Investigators found the weapons inside the student's car, parked on campus. After the incident, the school's principal said the knives were never brought inside the school building and no threats were ever made by the student. The student faces discipline based on the DeKalb School board policy.
- A 17-year-old Gwinnett teen was sent home from Maxwell High School after he brought a knife to school. Police said he later used it to stab his father and brother after getting into an argument with his parents over bringing the knife to school. While police couldn't say whether he intended to use the knife against his fellow students, his family said it wasn't the first time he brought the weapon to school. The teen was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
- After a rumor of threats against Flowery Branch began circulating online, school officials had to debunk them and clarify that there was no threat to students. According to the Hall County School Superintendent, the rumor started through a "social media text chain," but after an investigation, Hall County law enforcement found no credible threat.
- On the same day, a 16-year-old student was arrested after a parent tipped off law enforcement of a threat against West Forsyth High School. After interviewing students and parents, a suspect was identified and charged with one count of terroristic threats.
- Investigators responded to Dalton High School after finding a "threatening note." So far, investigators have not yet identified a suspect, and there have been no arrests in the case.
- The Habersham County Sheriff's Office responded to North Habersam Middle School around 12:30 p.m. after getting reports of a bomb threat against the school written in a bathroom stall. Students were evacuated and the school was swept by bomb-sniffing dogs. Investigators never found a threat, and are still trying to identify who wrote the threat. The incident is still under investigation.
- Bartow County School Police investigated social media reports of a shooting at Woodland High School. However, authorities were not able to identify a credible threat against the school. In response, Bartow County Schools officials increased police presence at the school.
- Authorities identified a threat made against Bay Springs Middle School in Carroll County on social media. Investigators did not find the threat to be credible at the time, but added increased security for the next school day. The Carroll County Sheriff's Office said they charged two juveniles, from another school, for the threat. Another two students were also charged for "making verbal threats in the presence of witnesses."
- A student was arrested after making threats against Northwestern Middle School in Milton. Police said they were notified of the threat by a concerned parent, and school officials made the decision to keep students away from the campus. The student now faces criminal charges and disciplinary action from the Fulton County School district.
- Investigators with the Chamblee Police Department confirmed they were looking into what they thought was a possible threat, but later said it was not credible.
- A 12-year-old student at Sandy Springs Charter Middle School was arrested after posting a threatening and terroristic message on social media. It spread to Centennial High School students, leading to an investigation by the Fulton County and Sandy Springs Police Departments. The Fulton County School System increased school security as a result.
- A social media threat and a pulled fire alarm led administration at Northview High School in Johns Creek to allow students to leave school early, Feb. 16. An investigation into the situation revealed that the threats may have been targeted at a school of the same name in Dothan, Alabama. Johns Creek Police increased their patrols on the metro-Atlanta campus as a result.
- A Hall County school bus was transporting students from Chestatee Middle and High schools when a student shouted that someone had a gun on a bus. The driver pulled over and police responded to do a search of the bus. No gun was ever found, but the 16-year-old student who allegedly made the threat was arrested and later charged with disorderly conduct, disrupting operation of a public school bus and simple assault.
- A man was arrested after he allegedly posted false reports of an active shooting at Conyers Middle School on Facebook. According to police school officials were made aware of the post after frantic parents called the school asking to pick up their children from school. The man was charged with disruption of a public school and taken to Rockdale County Jail.
- A student was arrested after police said he brought a gun to school and kept it in his locker. Gwinnett County Schools Police said they were alerted by Lanier High School administration after two students brought the issue to their attention. Officials found the 15-year-old suspect in gym class and they said he admitted to having the gun in his backpack which was found inside his locker. Gwinnett Schools said the gun was not loaded.