Deputies arrested a 17-year-old high school student for making “social media threats of mass violence” at South Johnston High, Corinth Holders High and Smithfield-Selma High on Wednesday …
Deputies arrested a 17-year-old high school student for making “social media threats of mass violence” at South Johnston High, Corinth Holders High and Smithfield-Selma High on Wednesday afternoon, according to a release from the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.
The student, who was not identified in the release, is being held in a juvenile detention facility in Raleigh.
“Juveniles assume that because of their age there are few swift penalties associated with their crimes,” the release stated. “However, as yesterday’s investigation shows, deputies will work hard to ensure that even juveniles will be held accountable for their actions.”
A Wednesday release from Johnston County Public Schools said that although the threats were found to be “non-credible,” the district would “prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
South Johnston High, Smithfield-Selma High, Corinth Holders High, Smithfield Middle and Princeton middle and high schools were on lockdown Wednesday as deputies investigated the threat.
“We continue to see, much too often, disruptions in our classrooms, including social media threats of violence,” said Sheriff Steve Bizzell. “Students, school staff, parents and grandparents, law enforcement, and our communities as a whole, are tired of seeing our students being fearful in an environment where they should feel safe to learn.
“As sheriff, our deputies will continue to use their expertise, training, and all other resources available to track down these individuals that are terrorizing our kids and grandkids, and hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
The JCPS release noted, “Student and staff safety is our district’s top priority. Families at each of these locations are being made aware of the situation and being reassured of student safety.
“Johnston County Public Schools takes these matters very seriously and we investigate every report and rumor thoroughly. We stress that parents and guardians speak with their students about the consequences of making these types of statements whether they are speaking with other students or making comments on social media.”
Communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property is considered a Class H felony under a state law which went into effect in 2018. Class H felonies are punishable by four to 25 months in jail.
The law defines the threat as “any means of communication, to any person or groups of persons” and says the threat must be “to commit an act of mass violence on educational property or at a curricular or extracurricular activity sponsored by a school.” Mass violence is defined as “permanent injury or death to two or more people.”
Students may be conditionally discharged of the crime, under the law, for “making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property,” if they have a clean record.