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Police investigating social media threats made at Virginia Beach high schools

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Posted at 11:06 AM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 23:40:02-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Police are investigating after two Virginia Beach schools experienced social media threats this week.

There was a steady stream of cars at Kempsville High School Wednesday morning, with some parents even darting to the door, eager to pick up their children after threats were made against the school.

"I did pull her out of school. If anything, I want her to be safe and make an impact at school, and I didn't think their plan was adequate at the time," said parent Charles Sexton.

Sexton picked up his senior just after 9 a.m. Wednesday, after she sent him screenshots of threats to shoot up the school.

"Everyone in class was worried and texting their parents," said student Diana Dunney.

Around 10 a.m., Virginia Beach Police and the school system said they were investigating a threat made on social media, but there was no active shooter.

"Two students talked about shooting up Kempsville High School. There were rumors about the football team, some said they were angry," said another student.

In light of the recent school shooting in Newport News at Heritage High School, the school's principal sent a message to all parents informing them of the situation.

"Someone made a social media threat against our school today. Our Office Safe Schools and the Virginia Beach Police Department are investigating," said Kempsville Principal Melissa George. "In the meantime, out of an abundance of caution, we will have extra police presence at the school today. Our school and students are safe."

"We should not have to go to school and be scared we are gonna die," said another student.

Across town at Green Run High School, another social media threat was made, and parents raced to pick up their teenagers.

"You should not be receiving texts from your kids scared out of your mind when they go to an institution to protect them," said Catina James.

"It is not a joke, don't joke about school shootings. That is not cool, it causes chaos to the community," said student Ryan Rowe.

The school's principal sent the following message to parents:

Good morning Green Run families. This AlertNow message is sent on behalf of Principal Tarkenton. We are calling to let you know that someone made a social media threat against our school. Our Office of Safe Schools and the Virginia Beach Police Department are investigating. Our school and students are safe. Of course just hearing or seeing such language can be upsetting to children, so we ask you talk with your child about the role they play in school safety. If they hear something concerning they should report it immediately to police or an adult and not perpetuate the rumor through social media or gossip. This will allow the school and police to respond more efficiently to safety concerns. Your child's safety is our highest priority and we take these matters very seriously. Thank you for your understanding and support of Green Run High School. We look forward to seeing your child in school tomorrow.

In a tweet, the Virginia Beach Police Department said it is "actively looking into every post brought to our attention and will continue to monitor safety and security measures at all Virginia Beach Schools."

The department urged parents to speak with their children about the "very real and severe consequences" of making threats, including possible criminal charges.

Later Wednesday, the following message went out to families in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools district:

Good evening, VBCPS families and staff -

What happened at Heritage High School this week is tragic, and our #VBStrong family is keeping our Newport News friends and colleagues in our thoughts during this difficult time.

When incidents such as the shooting at Heritage occur, it is common for there to be an uptick in reports and rumors of threats to school communities. Today, there were a number of reported threats to our schools as well as to those in our neighboring school divisions. There is understandably a heightened concern for your child's safety. We want to assure you that our Office of Safe Schools is closely monitoring social media and works with the Virginia Beach Police Department(VBPD) in assessing possible threats. We notify families based on guidance from VBPD, our Office of Safe Schools and in collaboration with our school leadership team.

In the meantime, we encourage you to please talk to your children about the role they play in school safety. If a child hears something concerning, they should report it immediately to police or an adult and not perpetuate the rumor through social media or gossip. This allows the school and police to respond more efficiently to safety concerns.

Thank you for your continued support of Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

These threats come two days after a traumatic school shooting incident at Heritage High School in Newport News left two students injured. A 15-year-old boy is in custody as the suspect for that incident.

Related: Norfolk, Portsmouth Police investigate social media threat made at several schools

This situation is ongoing and will be updated accordingly.

Stay with News 3 for updates.