Concerns grow over rise in school threats in Roanoke

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:47 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - William Fleming and Patrick Henry high schools were on lockdown Wednesday after threats were made to the safety of students and staff.

A 14-year-old girl is now in police custody after an incident at William Fleming. Meanwhile, police said a lockdown at Patrick Henry was the result of a hoax call which they’re continuing to investigate. There weren’t any weapons found in either school.

”This is back to back to back and it’s happening too much, both of our schools,” said Myoshoa Jordan, a parent of a Patrick Henry High School student.

Many parents and community members shared their growing frustration and concern around just how often threats are happening at area schools.

In September alone there have been eight school threats around southwest Virginia. WDBJ7 spoke with Roanoke City Council member Joe Cobb, who is also a parent of a Patrick Henry High School student.

“It’s absolutely critical that we not only have this thorough response, but that we continue to talk with each other. Parents and children, school communities, public safety officials, community leaders, all of us need to think about how to engage in conversation with each other to reduce these threats,” said Cobb.

Mayor Sherman Lea said it’s also about holding the people who make these threats accountable.

“Once we capture these people, to let them know that this is serious, you don’t play games like this and let them know we’re going to punish them to the fullest extent of the law,” said Lea.

If words are alarming enough to be brought to police attention, a child could face misdemeanor or felony charges.

“Prosecution may or may not be the best way to go, maybe mental health treatment, but then again you can’t just let it go, you’re not going to say this is just a warning, this has to be taken very seriously and it will be,” said Dr. Tod Burke, a retired professor of criminal justice.

Whether it be mental health services, a community conversation, action or all of the above, leaders made it clear that these types of disruptions need to stop.