WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Deputies: 3 teens made school shooting threats

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Authorities say they are seeking juvenile petitions against three Toisnot middle-schoolers who made shooting threats against two Wilson County public schools this week.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office said three teenage girls disseminated a threat against Darden and Toisnot middle schools on Tuesday evening, prompting officials to heighten security at all Wilson County Schools facilities.

The threat indicated the teens were going to “shoot up Darden first, then Toisnot ...,” according to the sheriff’s office.

The Wilson County threat was unrelated to reported threats in Nash County and elsewhere in eastern North Carolina that also circulated on Facebook, officials here said.

The Wilson teens used Snapchat and “changed and/or made a fake Snapchat photo to send the threat out to other recipients,” according to Wanda Samuel, sheriff’s office chief of staff.

Detectives used technology as well as search warrants to investigate the case, according to Samuel. She said a cellphone was also seized in connection with the incident and further arrests may be pending.

Police and Wilson County sheriff’s deputies increased their presence in and around area schools throughout the week.

School districts throughout North Carolina received reports of shooting and mass violence threats in the wake of a Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives.

Threats of school violence often lead to criminal charges and juvenile petitions filed against those found responsible. Wilson County deputies arrested four young teenagers accused of making a false bomb threat in December 2016.

“The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office will never take a back seat when it comes to the safety of our children,” said Sheriff Calvin Woodard. “We have always implemented security plans and drills along with Wilson County school personnel.”

Woodard said security checks have always been implemented on elementary schools as well as high schools. He added that investigating these types of crimes is intense and requires specialized technology.

“With different events going on in the world, this is not a playful matter for juveniles to perform,” Woodard said. “To ensure a peaceful educational environment, increased patrols were conducted at every Wilson County school. Such acts will not be tolerated, and I ask parents to please consult with your children about the seriousness of making bomb threats and/or disseminating such insensitive acts toward their peers.”

He said he was appreciative of the parental support during the investigation and the dedication from Wilson County Schools personnel and the Wilson Police Department.

“The education and lives of our most precious assets — our children — are at stake, and I will do everything possible to protect them,” Woodard said.

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