14-year-old Topsail High student charged with making false report of mass violence

14-year-old Topsail High student charged with making false report of mass violence
WECT's Bill Murray will be in the Digital Studio at 11 a.m. to share the latest information on the lockdowns at several Pender County Schools this morning. (Source: Pender Co. Schools)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The Pender County Sheriff's Office has charged a 14-year-old student at Topsail High School with making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property.

According to Captain Rowell with the sheriff's office, the student knowingly put out information on social media that they knew was fake. Rowell declined to go into any specifics about the threat but did say the teen was referred to juvenile services.

Rowell said that the sheriff's office continues to investigate threats that have been made or communicated on social networking sites.

"We would like to ask that parents continue to speak with their children regarding these types of incidents and encourage students to bring information forward when they hear or find out information," Rowell said. "We work to provide a safe, secure environment where students can learn without having to be worried about their safety. It takes involvement from everyone in the community to make this happen."

Wednesday incident comes just a day after county authorities were tipped off about a Snapchat video that reportedly threatened violence against Pender County schools. Authorities investigated and determined that the threat was not credible.

However, approximately 300 students across the county decided to leave their respective campuses due to the alleged threat.

In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, Superintendent Steven Hill said the school district's safety committee, which was formed last year, has completed six safety walk-throughs of schools campuses and will completely walkthroughs at every campus by the end of the school year.

Hill said in the coming weeks, the safety committee will be launching a community involvement and education campaign called "Report, don't Repost" detailing the importance of being a proactive citizen and legal responsibilities when sharing information on social media.

Hill said the school district works with local law enforcement to provide active shooter training for school staffs and first responders. Hill said during the school shooting Parkland, Florida, the Pender County Sheriff's Office was conducting active shooter training at North Topsail Elementary.

To date, active shooter training has been completed at seven schools in the county. Training for the remaining campuses will be finished by the end of the school year.

The school district, in collaboration with local government, will be requesting funding this year to improve security at schools, including an SRO based at each school, updated security cameras, and secure door entry systems.

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