Crime

Lakewood Ranch High School threat found not credible

It's fourth Manatee County school since Jan. 26 to be subject of a threat

BRADENTON -- A threat reported against Lakewood Ranch High School on Wednesday night was found to be not credible after the sheriff's office interviewed a student.

Parents were called Wednesday night to alert them about the threat, district spokesman Mike Barber said. Sometime in the evening, after interviewing a student, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office deemed the threat not credible, Barber said. A student overheard something in the hallway and reported it to a teacher, prompting the investigation, Barber said.

Parents were called again Thursday morning.

"As a precaution, we still had increased police presence," Barber said.

A significant number of students missed school Thursday at Lakewood Ranch, Barber said, but he didn't have the exact count.

Lakewood Ranch is the fourth Manatee County school in the last three weeks subject to a threat, which forced officials to call home and inform parents.

On Jan. 26, Lincoln Middle School officials became aware of a vague online threat and called parents night and the following morning. Ultimately, the threat was not found to be aimed at the Palmetto school, but was from somewhere else in the county.

Two days later, on Jan. 28, Manatee High School was also the subject of a vague online threat. Parents were called mid-afternoon and security was increased for the remainder of the school day. As with Lincoln, the threat was not aimed at Manatee High School specifically.

On Feb. 5, a student at Buffalo Creek Middle School reported overhearing information about a potential threat. Parents were called that evening and during the course of the weekend. Law enforcement deemed the threat not credible.

District and law enforcement officials have reported an uptick in unfounded social media threats. It's an issue that's been seen across the nation.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.

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