Update: Heavy police presence at Walton County schools Monday as suspect is held pending court appearance

Update

A social media threat by a local student via Snapchat prompted an arrest and heavier law enforcement presence at local schools in Walton County on Monday. Capt. Darren Vinson, who heads up the youth investigations for Walton County Sheriff’s Office, said the investigation began Friday. He said a local business reported that a young employee had posted on Snapchat that since he couldn’t shoot up Monroe Area High School, he may shoot up his place of work instead.

“We found out Friday at noon, looked into it and at 2 p.m. he was detained and spent the weekend at the Youth Detention Center pending an appearance in front of a judge this morning,” Vinson said. “He did admit to it and said that he was just venting because of some issues that he had at his place of employment, but there was no immediate threat.”

However, law enforcement agencies and the Walton County School District took extra precautions just to be on the safe side and advised parents, students and teachers that there would be a heavier than normal police presence at the school on Monday.

“We had an extra presence at George Walton Academy as well,” said Monroe Public Safety Director Keith Glass. “It’s just what you have to do now. We’ve been training for this type of thing for about a decade. You train for the worst and pray for the best.”

Local public safety departments had conducted one such training session late last year.

Initial story

In the light of the Parkland Fla. school shootings, a number of school districts have been dealing with copycat-type threats. Officials, however, are taking all threats seriously. Callen Moore, spokesperson for Walton County School District, confirmed Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, that Monroe Area High School principal Bryan Hicks has sent an email to MAHS parents, students and staff reporting a potential threat made against the school and letting them know that the situation is being addressed.

“I can confirm that the following email was sent from Principal Bryan Hicks to MAHS parents, students and staff this evening. The school is working closely with local law enforcement and will be taking extra precautions tomorrow to ensure a safe environment,” Moore said. “As you can see from the email, the source of the threat has been determined and is being addressed by local law enforcement.”

The following email was sent:

Dear Monroe Area High School Parents, Students, and Staff,

Over the weekend we were notified of a potential threat made against Monroe Area High School. We have taken immediate action and are working closely with local law enforcement to maintain a safe learning environment for all students. The source of the threat has been determined and is being addressed by local law enforcement.

As an extra precaution, we will have an increased police presence prior to students’ arrival and throughout the school day on Monday. Entry into the school will only be allowed through the Red Hall doors nearest the student parking lot and the front main doors. Local law enforcement officers will be stationed in these areas along with MAHS staff. We will follow our normal class schedules including all after school activities and practices. 

We appreciate your understanding and assure you that student and staff safety remains our top priority at MAHS.

WSBTV is reporting that a 16-year-old student from South Gwinnett is facing charges after making a threat against South Gwinnett High School. He is reported to have posted a video of a gun with the quote, “South Gwinnett, you’re next.”

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