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News to Know for Dec. 17: TikTok school threats; Richmond gun violence; Another warm December day

A threat of violence sweeping the country has caught the attention of schools and law...
A threat of violence sweeping the country has caught the attention of schools and law enforcement nationwide, including here in central Virginia.
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 6:41 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - We made it to Friday and another warm December day. More on that below, but first:

TikTok School Threats

A threat of violence sweeping the country has caught the attention of schools and law enforcement nationwide, including here in central Virginia. The post circulating on TikTok says there will be school shootings or bomb threats on Friday, Dec. 17.

Officials in Richmond, Hanover, Amelia, New Kent, Greensville, Dinwiddie and Northumberland counties will have an increased law enforcement presence at schools on Friday.

“There are no specific threats to RPS, but out of an abundance of caution, we are partnering with RPD to enhance security tomorrow,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras in a newsletter to parents. “I recognize my sharing this will likely cause additional anxiety tonight, but I felt it was important to communicate our plans so students and families are not surprised if they see additional officers or other security measures in the morning.”

Officials said there is no evidence that the threat is credible. However, they say they still take it seriously.

Richmond Gun Violence

Overnight, a man was shot in Whitcomb Court. He is expected to be okay, but it’s the latest in a string of shootings in the city - some deadly.

Yesterday alone, two men were shot and killed just hours apart in Richmond, and city leaders say enough is enough.

“We’re going to focus on intervention at a young age and also prevention tactics as well,” said Mayor Stoney.

Mayor Levar Stoney in his state of the city address said the city must start early by reaching middle schoolers to steer them away from a life of crime.

Turmoil within RPD

Amid the uptick in violence, the Richmond Coalition of Police asked Chief Gerald Smith to resign Thursday.

A recent survey of more than 250 members shows 96 percent of them have lost trust in the chief’s ability to lead. And 99 percent believe morale has not improved since he stepped into his role last year.

The coalition says it’s time for a new police chief to step in, but Mayor Levar Stoney disagrees.

“It seems to me as another cockamamie tactic by a group of people, a minority group of people, who seek to unionize the Richmond Police Department,” he said.

Stoney’s focus remains on how to improve the department and pay for officers.

CDC on J&J Shot

Health officials are now recommending most Americans get the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines instead of the Johnson & Johnson shot.

A CDC advisory panel yesterday expressed concerns about the risk of rare blood clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. At least 54 people in the U.S. have been hospitalized because of the blood clots; nine have died.

The CDC’s director still needs to sign off on the recommendation.

Tornado Cleanup Continues

Cleanup in Kentucky continues almost a week after powerful tornadoes tore through the Midwest.

The damage and devastation in Mayfield is so severe that it could take years before the community returns to normal, said Chris Chiles, disaster response coordinator for the Danville, Virginia-based God’s Pit Crew, which has been aiding storm-ravaged communities for more than two decades.

“There’s a ton of work that needs to be done,” Chiles said. “I’ve been doing this for 14 years all over the country, and it’s hard to get much worse than this.

The latest death toll in Kentucky stands at 75, with 16 people still missing.

How to Help

If you would like to help those affected by this tragedy, here’s what you can do:

Heal the Heartland Logo

Just text H-L-TORNADO to 5-1-5-5-5 to help in the tornado relief efforts.

Our parent company Gray Television is teaming up with the Salvation Army to continue relief efforts.

Another Warm December Day

Andrew Freiden is giving the OK to let your kid wear shorts to school! He says this morning will likely set a record for being the warmest overnight low for Dec. 17.

Today will be mostly cloudy with an isolated shower possible, especially north of Richmond this afternoon or evening. Highs will be in the upper 60s.

Keeping Motorists Merry

That’s what VDOT says it’s doing by lifting lane closures for the holidays.

The department will suspend most highway work zones and lift most lane closures on interstates and other major roads for both Christmas and New Wear’s.

Those will start at noon next Thursday until Monday, Dec. 27, and again on Dec. 30 through Jan. 3.

Final Thought

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt

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