Multiple prank threats pour into schools following Florida shooting; police react

Multiple prank threats pour into schools following Florida shooting; police react
Students evacuated after bomb threat at T.J. High (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After the deadly Florida school shooting almost two weeks ago, schools across the state have dealt with threats - including one Tuesday at Thomas Jefferson High in Richmond.

The day got off to a bumpy start. Students at T.J. evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat. The bomb squad rushed to the scene - only to find there was nothing there.

Students and teachers were out of class for more than an hour.

There have been multiple school threats across Central Virginia in the past couple of weeks, and all of them have been false alarms.

"Certainly they're on an uptick because of what's just happened," said Kevin Carroll, President of the state Fraternal Order of Police.

Responding to all of these school threats can tie up their ability to respond to other calls.

"If we've had a busy day - for example, where we've had bad weather, motor vehicle crashes, other calls for service - and we have to pull resources to go investigate these kinds of things," Carroll said.

Regardless, they must act is if lives are on the line.

"We're going to treat it like it is, in fact, a possible threat," Carroll said.

When a threat is credible, schools want to make sure they have proper resources available to keep students safe. One of those resources: school safety officers.

"[They] are dealing with these kind of situations every day. They're dealing with these kids every day, and hopefully they're identifying kids who may be having problems," Carroll said.

Problems like the one seen in Roanoke County just last week - a 7th grader was charged after authorities say he brought a loaded gun to class, reportedly because someone dared him to. Carrol says this is why having officers on school grounds is so important.

"Being there, at least if there is an active shooter, having an officer on scene, our response time is cut down tremendously, and it gives the officer on scene an opportunity to stop the threat before it gets too bad," he said.

Carroll says it is a crime to falsely summon a police officer to a scene. That includes calling in a fake threat. If they find you, you could be the one facing charges.

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