Rumored threats lead to safety precautions at Wilson schools

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Authorities are investigating rumors that school shooting threats are being circulated on social media in Wilson and Nash counties after concerns sparked several emergency calls late Monday.

Wilson police said the Wilson County 911 Communications Center received calls Monday night about messages allegedly posted to social media sites “stating that there were going to be some school shootings in Nash and Wilson County” on Tuesday.

“The callers were only able to advise that they had heard about these social media posts today through others,” a Tuesday morning message on the Wilson Police Department’s Facebook page states.

Police and Wilson County sheriff’s deputies increased their presence in and around area schools as a precaution on Tuesday.

Wilson County Schools spokeswoman Amber Lynch said the regional rumors led to a meeting between the Wilson and Nash sheriffs’ offices and Wilson and Rocky Mount police to coordinate safety plans.

“While the threats are not necessarily credible, we take any and all threats to our schools seriously,” Lynch said in a recorded phone message for parents and school staff.

School districts throughout North Carolina have 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.

Wayne County deputies began investigating rumored threats on Friday, with Maj. Richard Lewis noting in a news release that “no social media site or post has been located by or forwarded to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office to substantiate the claim of a threat.”

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.

“They will continue to investigate and follow up on any leads and take appropriate action,” Lynch said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Wilson Police Department at 252-399-2323 or Wilson County Sheriff’s Office at 252-237-2118.