More than eight months after Parkland shooting, Manatee schools still dealing with threats

Lakewood Ranch High School
Lakewood Ranch High School Herald file photo

More than eight months after 17 people were killed during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Manatee County schools and local law enforcement are still dealing with students making threats.

In the past couple weeks, at least three threats involving Manatee County schools have been reported but none of them have been deemed credible by the Manatee County School District or the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. The school district, like many across the state and country in the weeks following the Parkland shooting, was plagued by more than a dozen threats against local schools.

“We would not consider this a rash of threats. Unfortunately, vague and anonymous threats are not uncommon,” school district spokesman Mike Barber said Thursday.

On Monday, the latest threat was discovered inside a bathroom stall at Lakewood Ranch High School. “I will kill you all,” was written on the inside of one of the stalls and a girl reported it to school staff who reported it to the sheriff’s office. The non-specific threat was investigated by the sheriff’s office but deemed non-credible, according to a message sent to families from Principal Craig Little.

“When found, the person responsible for the threat will face serious criminal charges and district discipline up to reassignment to another school or expulsion, in accordance with the School District’s Code of Student Conduct,” Little said in the automated message. “Please remember, anyone involved in a threat against a school, even if made in jest, will face serious, life-altering consequences.”

Southeast High School was on lockdown most of Wednesday morning, adding another Manatee-area school to face threats after the high school shooting in Parkland last week.

Threats against Southeast High School in Bradenton have also been discovered in the past couple weeks.

Most recently, on Oct. 25, the school resource officer at Southeast was alerted by a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent from the Internet Investigations Center in Washington of a threat made using a Southeast student’s Twitter account, according to an incident report. The deputy immediately found the 17-year-old student and his parents were called to the school.

After speaking with them, the deputy determined that the student’s former Twitter account had either been reactivated and hacked or had been mirrored, according to the report.

According to school district officials, the school was never placed on any sort of lockdown because the threat was discovered after the school day was over.

school threats2
Manatee County Deputies arrive after a threat written on the wall of a girls restroom at Southeast High, in February, led to a lockdown for hours, keeping students in their classrooms and worried parents outside the school. Tiffany Tompkins

In an automated call to families, Southeast Assistant Principal Ginger Collins said, “After investigating the alleged threat, law enforcement has determined that the threat is not credible. We thank our Resource Officers and the Sheriff’s Office for their work on behalf of our school and we remind you that any threat against a school, even if made in jest, will result in serious, life-altering consequences.”

The threat did not specifically mention Southeast, according to Collins’ message.

A week earlier, on Oct. 18, a threat was discovered inside a bathroom stall at Southeast leading, to the school being placed on a “shelter in place” for about an hour at the end of the school day. According to an incident report, the threat stated, “I’m gonna shoot up the school Friday October/19/2018 with my ak-47(illegally purchased off of ebay) so be prepared Time: 1:25 where: ya’ll never know HaHaHa.”

There were two bathroom stalls with vulgar graffiti or statements written, according to the reported, but none of the others were specified. Parents were also notified of that threat.

Southeast was among the schools that saw multiple threats made last school year following the Parkland shooting.

You can follow Jessica De Leon on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.