NORTH CAROLINA — Officials with Cabarrus County Schools and the Mooresville Graded School District said they evacuated students and staff from five campuses because of threats made Tuesday.
The decisions come just a day after one of those schools, Northwest Cabarrus High School, evacuated for the same reason.
Later Tuesday, school officials said students would be safe to return to class on Wednesday, but then another threat prompted evacuations at Cox Mill High School on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office announced that criminal charges are pending against a student who is accused of writing a bomb threat against Northwest Cabarrus High School. Deputies searched the student’s home and found that they didn’t have any bomb-making materials.
Also on Thursday, The Concord Police Department identified a juvenile who is accused of making telephone bomb threats to Jay M. Robinson and Cox Mill high schools this week.
According to a recorded call from Northwest Cabarrus High, a bomb threat was reported there Tuesday morning. A student was identified in connection with those threats, officials said.
A parent shared a message from the school district that said four total schools were being evacuated for a bomb threat Tuesday morning. The district said Cox Mill Elementary, Cox Mill High, and Jay M. Robinson High schools were being evacuated “out of an abundance of caution. Our resources are currently being used to protect our students and our schools. Please understand our top priority is your child’s safety.”
Around 1:15 p.m. the same day, Cox Mill High was evacuated again because of a bomb threat, officials said. School dismissal was still planned for its usual time Tuesday, the district said in a letter to parents.
“I am here to pick up my daughter I had a call from Cabarrus County and they say there was a bomb threat at the school,” parent Emmanuel Sowah said who was waiting outside Northwest Cabarrus. “And this happened yesterday also and it’s very unnerving. I mean, it’s crazy. I mean, I just don’t feel comfortable right now.”
The district said law enforcement swept all four campuses with bomb units.
Sheriff Van Shaw said later in the day that his detectives identified the student responsible for the two threats at Northwest Cabarrus High this week. The name was not released. No one has been arrested yet, but they could face felony charges.
By Tuesday afternoon, all threats were cleared.
“The most important thing, it was a false report,” Shaw said. “There was no threat to the students.”
Shaw emphasized that no one was hurt.
Threat prompts new evacuation Wednesday at Cox Mill High School
A concerned parent of a Cox Mill High student sent Channel 9 a photo from Snapchat that reads in part, “Be ready tomorrow, Wednesday. I will be planting and blowing.”
Channel 9 sent a copy of the message to the district after Shaw said he was adding extra patrols.
“We will be prepared tomorrow,” Shaw said. “We will have individuals who are out there, resources, in close proximity to the schools if not at the schools.”
The superintendent said there were no plans for remote learning on Wednesday. He insisted school will be safe for students and that counselors will be available on campus.
By about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Cox Mill High School was placed on lockdown and then evacuated as a precaution due to a bomb threat.
On Wednesday, Channel 9 could see a heightened police presence at Cox Mill elementary and high schools. The sheriff said those responsible for making the threats could face more than three years in prison if convicted.
The sheriff’s office is investigating whether the student they believe is responsible for the threats at Northwest Cabarrus High is involved with the threats at the other schools, or if anyone else is responsible.
Cabarrus County Schools Superintendent John Kopicki said several students experienced heat exhaustion while waiting outside but none were taken to the hospital.
Channel 9 is aware of threats involving Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Wednesday. Class remains in session for the planned early dismissal day. Channel 9 will not elaborate on these threats, in an effort to avoid copycat threats.
School security expert weighs in on possible motive
As the schools continue to deal with the bomb threats, Channel 9 spoke with an expert who has seen many fake bomb threats in the past about what reasoning could be behind the threats.
Mo Canady is the executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, and he says that oftentimes, the suspect behind the threat wants to see a major disturbance.
“One of the things, in the past [with] some of these false reports regarding bomb threats in particular, that the caller wants to do is to see the school evacuate,” Canady said. “That’s one of their goals.”
Even with a pattern of false reports, Canady says that every threat still has to be taken seriously. He said that the best way to discourage others from making similar threats is the school’s reaction and policy.
“This is a crime. The sooner we can identify this individual and bring charges against them and bring them to justice, that’s gonna matter, that’s gonna have some impact,” Canady said. “Schools’ policies are critically important.”
(WATCH BELOW: School security expert weighs in on possible motive behind school threats)
Mooresville HS moves to virtual learning Wednesday after threat called in
In Iredell County, the Mooresville Graded School District said someone called Mooresville High School Tuesday morning and made a threat to the building. The district said police were made aware and all students were evacuated immediately, and Mooresville High confirmed class was dismissed for the day.
Officials said out of an abundance of caution, all other MGSD schools have been put on a “lock-in” status while police investigate.
“We appreciate you refraining from calling the high school directly as we will keep you updated as more information comes available,” the district said.
Later Tuesday, MGSD announced that Mooresville High School will be on virtual learning on Wednesday.
The FBI said it is working with local law enforcement and has been made aware of the bomb threats. The agency’s full statement is below:
“FBI Charlotte is aware of numerous bomb threats at area schools and are in touch with the local law enforcement agencies involved. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately.
“Investigating hoax threats drains law enforcement resources and diverts us from responding to an actual crisis. Hoax threats can shut down school campuses, cause undue stress and fear to the public, and cost taxpayers a lot of money; not to mention ruin the future of those making the hoax threats as they’ll likely have a criminal record, like the student featured in this video.”
Mooresville police are working with investigators in Cabarrus County to determine if the threats are connected.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
(WATCH BELOW: Student recalls running for her life at football game before threat deemed false)
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