Instagram threat prompts extra security at Hopewell High School

Police: “Although there is no credible threat, we have implemented additional security measures.”
Things calming down at Hopewell High School after a social media threat brought extra police out Wednesday.
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 8:24 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:46 PM EDT
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HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Extra security was on hand at Hopewell High School Wednesday following the report of a threat posted on social media overnight.

In a statement, Hopewell City Public Schools said officers have been actively investigating the threat made towards Hopewell High School on Instagram and “it is very likely that the post was made primarily to create fear.”

Hopewell Police said although there is no credible threat, the department has implemented additional security measures for Hopewell High School.

“All threats of violence within the community are taken seriously and are thoroughly investigated,” said a spokesperson for Hopewell Police. “Officers will be on location at the school and will be diligently patrolling the area until further notice.”

The school operated on a “secure status” and took other behind-the-scenes measures to minimize risks, according to a statement posted on the Hopewell City Public Schools Facebook page.

The school division said they would allow a parent to excuse a child’s absence due to the post’s concerns for the day.

“We understand the concerns some parents and students may have, and at the same, we believe it is important to carry forward and not allow an attempt to cause fear to change the commitment we have to our students,” said the online statement from Hopewell City Public Schools.

Cliff Lent, president of M7 Solutions, said that schools and law enforcement agencies generally have protocols to follow once a tip is submitted, including determining the credibility of a threat.

“Social media threats are very common these days. When a school or a police department receives them, they have to act on them immediately,” Lent told NBC12. “Is there is a crime involved, is there a cry for help, is this a real person, is this something that they can take action on or should they take action on, then that puts in motion a series of protocols that they will have in place.”

As Hopewell Police continue investigating this threat, ask parents and students to remain vigilant and report suspicious activities to authorities.

A message Lent also echoes.

“If you see something on your children’s social media, report it. If you see something on somebody else’s social media, report it,” he said. “Let the police department, let the school threat assessment team figure out on their own if this is something actionable or not. The ultimate goal is to keep the schools safe.”

In an update sent out on Wednesday afternoon, Hopewell Schools said all afterschool activities will take place, and they plan to have a regular school day on Thursday.

“We are very proud of the way our Hopewell High School students and staff have handled the circumstances of school today. We are also incredibly appreciative of the support of law enforcement for their added presence and continued vigilance in pursuing this case,” said Hopewell City Public Schools in an online statement. “While the police continue to investigate, they have said there is no credible threat.”