Bomb threat at Lexington Middle School one of many in the area in recent weeks

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Lexington Middle School’s lockdown on Tuesday due to a bomb threat was just one of many similar incidents across the state in the past week.

Four schools in Cabarrus County and one in Iredell County were also evacuated or quarantined on Tuesday after receiving threats via social media. Last week, schools in Alamance and Guilford County were disrupted due to bomb threats.

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Lexington Middle School was placed under a “shelter-in-place” order for about four hours on Tuesday after receiving a bomb threat via Instagram. It was lifted after law enforcement searched the school using a canine fire and explosives detection officer and ruled there was no threat to students and the personal.

Lexington Police Chief Robby Rummage said he identified a young suspect in connection with the bomb threat at Lexington Middle School. The suspect’s name is withheld due to his age.

He said while there have been similar bomb threats at other schools in the state, it appears to be an isolated incident.

“As far as we know, the incident at Lexington Middle School was not related to any of the other threats, it was local. Although we are not part of any of this, we are still tracking it,” said Rummage.

He said there has been an overall increase in threats of violence towards schools or students via social media, which have generally proven to be unfounded, but due to the risk law enforcement must deal with every incident. valid until proven otherwise.

“These threats can be a waste of our resources, but if we are not careful, we will allow ourselves to be conditioned that not all threats are valid. We need to approach everyone as if it’s the real deal and make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure schools are safe,” Rummage said.

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Lexington City Schools Superintendent Dr. Anitra Wells said these threats to schools are very disruptive, not only in terms of teaching, but they also have an emotional impact on staff and students. .

“It’s clearly impacting instruction,” Wells said. “Children are grouped together in the same place with the same teacher and miss instructions from other classes. There is also a sense of fear for children and teachers which makes it difficult to concentrate. In some cases, we lose a full day of teaching and we cannot afford to waste that time in class.

She said that while the school district hasn’t recently faced threats at the level of Lexington Middle School, they take any potential incidents very seriously.

“We view every threat as credible. We will always err on the side of caution and not assume that these threats are not credible. We want to make sure our campuses are as safe as possible,” Wells said.

Wells said that includes the use of metal detectors and bag searches at middle and high schools in Lexington. During the first week of school, the district presented a demonstration of a technologically advanced device that reduces the need for hand bag searches, which the school system is considering purchasing.

Rummage said the Lexington Police Department is working closely with school resource officers to assess any potential threats and determine the level of response.

“It’s determined on a case-by-case basis,” Rummage said. “Lexington City Schools have a number of security measures in place, including metal detectors and search bags.”

On Tuesday, several schools were evacuated in the county of Cabarrus. Officials confirmed that Jay M. Robinson High School, Cox Mill High School, Cox Mill Elementary School and Northwest Cabarrus High School had all been evacuated.

Cabarrus County Sheriff Van Shaw said they have also identified a student they believe is responsible for the threats at Northwest Cabarrus High School on Monday and Tuesday.

Mooresville High School in Iredell County was also evacuated the same day after receiving an automated message with a bomb threat, according to a Mooresville Police Department Facebook post.

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On September 15, the Alamance-Burlington School System reported a bomb threat at Smith Elementary School shortly before 2 p.m. via its social media accounts. The district also reported that a Turrentine Middle School student threatened violence with a weapon in another Twitter post.

Also on September 15, representatives from Guilford County schools reported that Welborn Academy of Sciences and Technology and Kearns Academy were briefly evacuated due to a threat.

In the first week of September, there were at least 30 hoax threats about a school shooting or other violence on campuses across the country. On Monday, 10 Virginia schools reported threats, many of which resulted in a police response or closures.

None of them were found to be credible.

Many of these “false reports” are part of an increasingly popular hoax called “swatting” which is the practice of pranking emergency services or the school system in an attempt to cause the sending of a large number of armed police. to a particular address.

Rummage has repeatedly stated that those who pull these “pranks” are unaware of the potential consequences.

Although seemingly harmless at first glance, the penalties for a bomb threat can be quite severe. State-level laws vary by jurisdiction, but typically suspects are charged with a crime that can result in more than a year in prison depending on the circumstances.

“Investigating these reports is labor intensive which, if found to be false, could have been put to better use elsewhere,” Rummage said. “Often these (people) don’t understand exactly how serious these charges can be or the impact they can have on the rest of their lives.”

This article originally appeared on The Dispatch: The Lexington school bomb threat is one of many across the state in recent weeks

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