Threats of potential school violence are hitting too close to home in some West Virginia communities.
Several school districts are dealing with online threats, and the impact is being felt outside the school walls.
Law enforcement, district officials, teachers and other school personnel as well as students, parents and concerned citizens are taking the threats seriously.
Timing means a lot too.
It’s been less than a week since a young gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people including students and staff.
Shooter Nikolas Cruz, who previously attended the school, legally purchased the AR-15 he used in the Valentine’s Day massacre, police said.
That kind of national news hasn’t been forgotten locally.
Two schools in Fayette County will be closed today due to threats made on social media, according to reporting by WV News.
The West Virginia Department of Education made the announcement on Twitter Sunday just after 7 p.m. that Valley Elementary School and Valley High School would both be closed today.
Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley said Sunday night on his department’s Facebook page that law enforcement was aware “of the threats and post on social media concerning a local high school” and that the situation is being addressed.
The Fayette County Board of Education also issued a press release Sunday night stating the district has “been made aware of inappropriate threatening Snapchat messages that have been circulating throughout social media.
Fayette County Schools are working with law enforcement and precautions have been taken at the schools involved.”
Additional police officers are slated to be at Nitro High School today due to a threat made against the school.
Sunday night, students’ parents were notified of the threat via a robocall from Kanawha County Schools, according to WCHS.
A school district spokeswoman said the source of the threat has been identified, but precautions are being taken to keep students safe, WCHS reported.
Jefferson County Schools also announced Sunday night that Charles Town Police are aware of a social media threat against Washington High.
Police will have extra officers at the school when classes resume Tuesday following today’s Presidents Day holiday, according to the district’s Facebook page.
“We will exhaust all avenues to identify the person behind this threat and bring him/her to justice,” it reads.
District officials didn’t specify the nature of the threats. Anyone with information is asked to call law enforcement at 304-725-8484.
But a recent post alleged “rumors going around saying there’s gonna be a shooting there” and to be careful Tuesday.
Another individual reportedly referenced the recent mass shooting and said “WHS is next,” according to a social media post.
Last week a George Washington High student was arrested for threats of terrorist acts.
Corey Michael Duff, 18, of Charleston, was arrested Friday by Charleston Police from an alleged video posted on Snapchat.
The video showed him “holding what appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol with an extended clip, pointing it at the screen and holding it upside down to show viewers the magazine,” The Associated Press reported.
It was captioned with a threatening message, “plenty for errbody,” according to police.
He was charged with one felony count of making threats of terrorist acts. He was sent to the South Central Regional Jail with bond set at $50,000.
Police lined the high school’s entrance Friday morning as students arrived. It was the second day in a row for that presence.
They also investigated a reported threat by another student Wednesday night but say no evidence of an actual threat was found, according to The AP.
Kanawha County deputies said a 17-year-old Sissonville High School student was also charged Friday after a gun was found inside a vehicle he drove to school.
The SUV was normally driven by his father, but he had taken it to school Friday.
Deputies said the student knew there was a gun inside the vehicle.
However there were no threats to use the firearm, or any evidence of intention to use the gun was found. It was not displayed to anyone Friday, police said.
He was charged with possessing a firearm on school property, arrested and later released to the custody of his parents, according to WCHS.