WASHINGTON - School officials said they have added additional security at multiple area schools on Monday after threats circulated on social media over the weekend.
The online threats appeared to hint at bomb and shooting attacks on teachers and students at three Prince George's County high schools and four middle schools, and was shared on a number of social media platforms.
On Monday night, Prince George's County police said detectives arrested and charged a Parkdale High School student for threat of mass violence against the school and other related charges. According to police, the student set up a clown-themed Twitter account while he was in class and threatened harm to anyone at the school on Monday.
Police also said they have identified another student for making a bomb threat on social media against Bladensburg High School. Police have not charged the student, but school officials are taking disciplinary action against the student.
Prince George's County Public Schools tweeted Monday that in response to the threats aimed at specific schools, they were placing additional officers at schools as a precaution.
In response to several threats on social media aimed at specific schools, there are addtl officers throughout #PGCPS as a precaution.— PGCPS (@pgcps) October 3, 2016
Schools are open today as scheduled. We take threats to students very seriously. We will continue wkg w #PGPD to investigate threats.— PGCPS (@pgcps) October 3, 2016
Prince George's County Public Schools sent an electronic notice to parents Monday afternoon saying:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Over the weekend, anonymous threats were made against several Prince George’s County schools on social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. As a precaution, local law enforcement deployed additional officers at schools throughout the county. Police and school security will remain vigilant all week for any suspicious activity. We will work with Prince George’s County Police Department as they continue to investigate these threats.
We have heard from many of you expressing concern over not receiving prior notification from the school system regarding these threats. We generally work with our law enforcement partners on our public statements concerning threats, whether true or unsubstantiated. However, we understand that you may need additional information for reassurance and we will keep that in mind for future incidents.
The safety of our students is our top priority. Please use this as an opportunity to remind your child to immediately speak to a teacher or school administrator about any safety concerns. We want your child to know our school environment is safe and focused on their academic success.
Thank you for your continued support.
The Prince George’s County Police Department is continuing to work with school administration along with the FBI for other similar threats, but they are not believed to be credible.
Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin Maxwell said they are not going to take any chances.
"The threats were for today and we will see what social media has to say to us tonight,” he said. “We are prepared to do what we need to do in order to keep our children safe. Our collaboration with law enforcement is seamless.”
Although officials took the threat very seriously, schools remained open on Monday. But many students at Bladensburg High School told FOX 5 on Monday that about half of classes were nearly empty.
"People are just trying to get attention,” said Favor Onaolapo, a senior student at Bladensburg. “That's really what it is. People will just do the stupidest things just for attention.”
"I think they are joking, but it is serious because it can be serious or they could be joking,” said Bladensburg student Walter Perez. “We don't know."
Schools in Arlington County were also mentioned in threatening posts.
"We have been made aware of the threats to schools throughout the area. Out of an abundance of caution, as an increase to our school resource officers, we have increased patrols around schools during arrivals and dismissals," said Ashley Savage, spokesperson for the Arlington County Police Department.
In addition, Fairfax County Public Schools also tweeted about the subject saying that they are aware of the threats and that police do not believe the threats are credible.
FCPD is aware of online threats. Police do not believe threats are credible.— Fairfax Schools (@fcpsnews) October 3, 2016