Local authorities respond after increased threats against Hampton Roads schools

Local News

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — In the days following a double shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News, there has been a significant increase in threats and rumors of threats to local Hampton Roads schools.

Click here to subscribe to WAVY Breaking News Email alerts.

As local authorities continue to investigate and work with school districts, several have released statements regarding specific threats and their efforts:

Chesapeake

Chesapeake Public Schools and Chesapeake police issued a joint statement Wednesday about social media posts with threats made to city schools and others in nearby localities.

Dear CPS families:

Over the past couple of days, we have been made aware of social media posts circulating in
the community regarding threats to our schools, as well as to schools in our neighboring
cities. Any time there is an accusation of a threat to a school, we immediately notify the
Chesapeake Police Department to investigate each report to ensure that appropriate
measures are taken to ensure the safety of students and staff. Providing information to
school administration in these types of situations is the ultimate example of “See
Something, Say Something,” which is a philosophy CPS wholeheartedly embraces. Often it
is a student or parent who finds these potential threats online first. As a result, it is
important to share this information directly with school administrators and staff, rather than
sharing rumors through social media. Safety concerns can also be shared through Quick Tip
on our district website or by contacting your school administrators directly by phone or
email.

Please know that the safety and security of our students is our top priority. We ask that you
continue to speak with your children about the potential ramifications of posting or sharing
threats on social media. It is important to note that Chesapeake Public Schools will
prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, anyone connected with making threats regarding
the safety of our schools. There are very serious consequences for students who
participate in this behavior and these consequences can negatively impact childrens’ lives
well into their future.

We value your partnership in helping to maintain a safe and supportive learning environment
for our students and we thank you for your continued support.

Respectfully,
Jared Cotton, Ed.D., Superintendent

Kelvin Wright, Chief of Police

Hampton

Hampton Police say there were notified about a post circulating on social media Tuesday threatening violence at Phoebus High School. After further investigation, police arrested 20-year-old Newport News resident Nedko Ivanov Coon and charged him with one count of threats of violence involving a school.

The Hampton Police Division released the following statement on Thursday:

The safety of students and staff is always the primary focus, and Hampton City Schools has systems in place to maintain a safe school environment. Although the threat was not substantiated, the Hampton Police Division increased officer presence at all schools throughout the day to ensure the safety of all students and staff.

Norfolk

On Tuesday, school officials in Norfolk were made aware of social media posts threatening the Norview High and Middle School community. The district requested an increased police presence in that area on Wednesday.

The Norfolk Police Department released the following statement on Thursday:

The Norfolk Police Department is aware of social media threats that have been made towards several Norfolk Public Schools. An investigation has been started to identify the source of the social media posts, and the investigation is still ongoing. 

Following the recent school shooting in Newport News, the Norfolk Police Department took the steps necessary to add an increased police presence at all Norfolk Public Schools as a precautionary measure. 

Norfolk Police and Norfolk Public Schools want to assure the community that all threats or social media posts of a threatening nature that are made towards Norfolk Public School staff and/or students will be thoroughly investigated.

Anyone found posting threats on social media could be charged with a Class 6 Felony resulting in up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2500 fine.

Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Police Department released the following statement on Thursday:

The Portsmouth Police Department has had several reports of disturbing messages and posts made on social media depicting guns and phrases like “Get your kids. They are shooting at Norcom.” Please know that we take these threats seriously and we are investigating them.

The Portsmouth Police Department is working closely with the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office and Portsmouth Public Schools to ensure the safety of all students. There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we do not tolerate violence or threats of violence, however fake or bogus they may be.

More information about these investigations will be provided to the public as it becomes available.

Portsmouth Public Schools also sent a statement home to families about the safety concerns.

Since last night, administration has received reports of social media posts threatening violence at all of our middle and high schools. In speaking about our middle school threats specifically, the same image was used with a different school name added before it was shared and posted today.

Let me be clear: This behavior is unacceptable.

When school leadership receives a report of a threat, they immediately contact the Portsmouth Police Department, which begins its investigation into the threat. When the person responsible for the threat is identified, he or she not only faces discipline at the school, but also a possible arrest.

These posts are not funny, and they are not clever. They are criminal.

Parents, we need your help. Please talk with your child about their decision making and about the real – and very serious – consequences that come from making or sharing these kinds of posts. If they see something concerning online, please report that directly to their school administration or police, so that the investigation regarding the threat is not delayed.

Similarly, as a reminder for us all, blindly posting rumors about threats or reposting upsetting images on social media is not helpful to police or to school leaders. Today, due to rumors about threats in the division and subsequent misinformation, one of our elementary schools had a group of parents come to pick up their child because they read their school was on lockdown. This was never the case.

We all have a role to play in creating welcoming school environments. Let us not cause undue stress and anxiety for our community. Instead, let us work together and create networks of support for our students, families and schools.

I am grateful to the Portsmouth Police Department and Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office for their continued partnership in this work, and I thank you for your continued support of Portsmouth Public Schools.

Smithfield

Smithfield High School had a large law enforcement presence on Tuesday after a social media post was made with apparent threats to the school.

The Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement on Thursday:

The Sheriff’s Office was made aware of a possible threat to the County Schools. After a thorough investigation and in cooperation with other State and Federal Agencies we have determined that there is NO active threat. Some might have seen images going around on social media showing firearms, these photos have been traced to Menifee, California. The original image was posted Sept 8, 2021, where there is also a Heritage HS and the persons involved have been arrested. Also, the Sheriff’s Office has identified the person responsible for the threat today.

Suffolk

Suffolk Public Schools tell 10 On Your Side that there were alleged threats made to King’s Fork Middle School and Lakeland High School Tuesday. However, both threats proved to be false.

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach Police Department is investigating a social media threat made toward Kempsville High School. There was no credible threat, police said.

In addition, the Virginia Beach Police Department released the following statement on Thursday:

A recent increase of threats of violence to local schools have been breeding fear, anxiety and frustration for students, parents and teachers.

While the vast majority of these threats are anonymous and turn out to be hoaxes, all have to be investigated and taken seriously.

The VBPD is actively looking into every post brought to our attention and will continue to monitor safety and security measures at all Virginia Beach School in coordination with the Office of Safe Schools and Virginia Beach school leaderships.

We are are asking for all parents to speak with your children as to the very real and severe consequences of for making threats to do harm, to include criminal charges.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools also sent a statement home to families about the safety concerns.

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.

Those with information can submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-888-LOCK-U-UP, downloading the P3 tips app to a mobile device, or visiting www.P3tips.com and submitting a tip.

Get the free WAVY News App, available for download in the App Store and Google Play, to stay up to date with all your local news, weather and sports, live newscasts and other live events.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WAVY Twitter Widget

***Don’t Miss Module Removal CSS***

WAVY Facebook