Anne Arundel County students may notice an extra police cruiser or more officers on campus this week as the school system confronts an online threat made at Pasadena’s Northeast High School, as well as heightened anxieties following recent horrific school shootings elsewhere in the country.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools said in a statement to parents and students issued via Facebook last night that “as a precaution and to help ease fear and anxiety of students, parents, and staff, you may see an increased additional police presence at schools tomorrow and throughout the week.”
The school system initially said “no known credible threats” had occurred at any place of learning, but that police would maintain a larger presence “in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.”
However, shortly after 10 p.m., Northeast High parents received text messages, emails and phone calls informing them of a threat. School system spokesman Bob Mosier said this morning that it was “absolutely an online threat,” and implied violence with a “racial component.”
“Given the day and age that we’re in, given the heightened anxiety that parents have—certainly understandably—we thought that was a prudent decision,” he said, with the caveat that it “doesn’t mean there’s a direct threat to the school.”
Anne Arundel County Police Department spokesman Marc Limansky said the threat came from a fake SnapChat created with a name unlinked to anyone at school, which meant police had deemed it a “non-credible threat.”
Tensions are also high for the Glen Burnie High School community after an incident from last week that led to more rumors, which pushed administrators to reach out to parents there as well. Mosier said that was was due to an off-campus situation involving a former student and a current student.
“The bubble-up of that was that folks were posting online that one of the students had a gun in school,” Mosier said. “That was never true. But that consternation raised anxiety and led us to communicate with Glen Burnie parents and staff this morning.”
Anne Arundel County police spokesman Marc Limansky said one student, a juvenile who doesn’t attend the school during the day, has been charged with making threats of mass violence for allegedly verbally threatening two others. The threats stem from a fight that happened earlier, Limansky said.
A similar threat stemming from the Glen Burnie case appeared on social media feeds for Old Mill High School in Millersville, he said.
Trouble unfolded online for North County High School as well, but Mosier said that wasn’t because of a real threat, but rather somebody who “asked if anybody else had heard of a threat.” Again, in that example administrators issued a statement via social media and reached out to parents.
Anne Arundel County police have warned parents that their children should know online messages are taken seriously, and “they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Addressing students who do make threats online–or share them–to cause a stir, Limansky said, “if you think you’re being funny, take another breath and look at it again.”
He also pointed out that someone who plans to commit an act of violence, such as a shooting, against a school or students typically won’t “announce it to the world” beforehand.
So far, nothing bad has unfolded at any Anne Arundel County schools today. Mosier said classes began this morning with “quiet, orderly student arrivals.”
This story has been updated.
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