LUMBERTON — Well more than half of the students at Lumberton and St. Pauls high schools took a day off on Monday in response to one of multiple potential threats of violence across the state that used social media as a platform.
A total of 1,306 Lumberton students and 662 St. Pauls students were absent, according to the Public Schools of Robeson County.
The average daily membership is 2,043 for Lumberton High and 981 for St. Pauls, according to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, meaning 65 percent of the students at those schools did not attend that day.
The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and St. Pauls Police Department addressed the threat in a debriefing on Monday evening. The investigation into the threat had concluded without an arrest being made, but disciplinary action will be taken if necessary, law enforcement and public schools officials said.
School officials asked the public to try to discern a legitimate threat from a social media prank.
“The public is also asked to report direct threats to the Sheriff’s Office and school administrators instead of rumors or allegations,” said Tasha Oxendine, public relations officer for the school system.
Making false reports of a threat of violence on an educational property is a felony.
Threats also were reported at schools in Burke, Gates, Harnett, Hyde, Nash, Pasquotank, Pitt, Wayne and Wilson counties.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday morning, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office said one of the threatening social media posts has been consistently seen around North Carolina.
“This same post has been circulating through many other schools in the state of North Carolina, even as far west as Cleveland County,” the Sheriff’s Office post read. “Every time the post gets passed on the name of a school or school district gets changed, therefore based on what we’ve seen we do not believe this is a legitimate threat but simply a social media hoax that continues to get shared.”
The Wilson Police Department posted about its plan for dealing with the threats.
“Members from Wilson Police Department, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Rocky Mount Police Department, Nash County Sheriff’s Office met together with school district leaders and Wilson County Emergency Management today to coordinate safety plans,” the post said. “Law enforcement will have an increased presence at all public and private schools in response to the rumored threats.”
Multiple threats have been reported nationally almost a week after a shooting at Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed.
One incident ended with a man being taken into custody in Appleton, Wis., after sending electronic messages containing threats against an unnamed school to FBI officials.
In Davie, Fla., an 11-year-old girl was charged after writing a note that detailed threats against her teachers and classmates.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.