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Series of 'hoax threats' reported in North Texas

At Frisco ISD, students returned to campus for the first time this week after it was closed due to the threat.

FLOWER MOUND, Texas — Another juvenile was arrested in North Texas in connection to a threat made against a school this week. 

Arlington police arrested a middle school student on Tuesday and charged them with making a terroristic threat, police said Thursday.

Police determined it was not a legitimate threat and he didn't intend to act on it. The threat did not lead to any school closures, Arlington police said.

RELATED: More arrests in connection to threats against schools: Here's what we know so far

It's just the latest in a string of alleged threats against schools, including those made against Fossil Hill Middle School, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and Mansfield ISD.

Retired Dallas Police Chief Craig Miller worked with schools in Dallas for nearly a decade, and said he witnessed a rise in social media threats against schools. He said it's common before holiday breaks or finals. But whether or not the threats turn out to be credible, Miller said it still a serious issue.

"I think it’s really important for kids to understand that there are consequences for their actions," he told WFAA. "This stuff is gonna follow you throughout your entire life."

Lewisville ISD - Dec. 9

On Monday, a juvenile was arrested in connection to a "hoax threat" sent to Marcus High School in Lewisville ISD.

Police arrested the student who is accused of making a hoax threat against Marcus High School, which was sent to the district on Dec. 9. A similar threat was made against Flower Mound High School and police say additional charges could be pending. No credible threat was found regarding either school, police said.

Flower Mound police said they identified the juvenile on Saturday and arrested them on Monday. The juvenile was charged with making a terroristic threat, which is a felony, police said. The juvenile was transported to the Denton County Juvenile Detention Center.

In a post, the Flower Mound Police Department implored parents to "please talk to your students about the serious nature of making threats, because those words can lead to significant legal consequences, in addition to disciplinary action from the school district," the department said.

In a joint letter to parents, Marcus Principal Will Skelton and Marcus-9 Principal Chantell Upshaw also asked for the school community to "report, don’t repost rumors" of threats.

"Once a rumor starts on social media, it is nearly impossible to stop," the principals said. "We need your help in sharing the information with the appropriate people, and not repeating the message on social media."

Frisco ISD - Dec. 10 & 12

Lewisville ISD wasn't the only school district in North Texas where authorities had to investigate threats to schools. 

At Frisco ISD, students at Lone Star High School were out of class for two days -  returning on Wednesday - after the district also received a threat and canceled classes.

On Wednesday, the Frisco Police Department said they were still investigating the threats. No other information is being released at this time about the incidents.

The threats were received on Friday and Sunday against the campus, according to Frisco ISD, so the district decided to cancel classes to ensure the safety of students and staff.

The district assured parents in a letter Tuesday that police and K-9 officers conducted a thorough sweep of the campus and did not find anything that posed a threat or was suspicious.

Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, the district said the following will be implemented for the remainder of the week:

  • Increased police presence
  • Backpacks and large bags will not be allowed; students should carry only essential items
  • Student hall passes will be limited to essential business only
  • Additional school staff will monitor hallways and exit/entry points

All students and staff are encouraged to use STOPit to report anything of concern to school officials anonymously. Additionally, community members, parents and students should report any immediate concerns to the Frisco Police Department by contacting 972-292-6010 or 911. Cell phone users can send anonymous tips by texting the word “FriscoPD” and the tip information to 847411.

Haltom Middle School - Dec. 14

Haltom City Police Department said that they were aware of rumors of a threat to Haltom Middle School on Tuesday. The threat was investigated and found to be a hoax, police said in a Facebook post.

There was an increased presence of police for peace of mind.

Hebron High School - Dec. 10

Another school in Lewisville ISD also received a threat, but it has not been confirmed whether it's connected to the threats and suspect in the Marcus and Flower Mound High School case, according to Carrollton police.

Carrollton police said on Dec. 10 that they were investigating a threat against Hebron High School, but determined that it was not credible.

The department sent additional officers to the campus to ensure the community felt safe, police said. 

Kaufman ISD - Dec. 16

The Kaufman High School was closed Friday, Dec. 17 due to an allegation of a threat towards the campus, the district said.

The threat was received Wednesday afternoon, and was in line with a social media trend threatening violence against schools across the country, according to a letter sent to parents.

The Kaufman ISD police were involved and appropriate actions have been taken, the letter said. There were no weapons on the campus.

Keller ISD - Dec. 10

Fort Worth police and the FBI were investigating a social media threat on Friday, Dec. 10 that mentioned Fossil Hill Middle School, according to Keller ISD.

The authorities tried to determine where the post originated but there was no evidence to indicate a viable threat to the school. The police department and FBI found no credible threats, but determined that there are a number of posts from fake accounts possibly alluding to someone they are not.

"We will continue to work with law enforcement to identify those who have done this, and anyone connected to our school who is involved will be held accountable in accordance with the Keller ISD Code of Conduct," Keller ISD said.

FBI is involved

The FBI Dallas office assists local law enforcement in cases such as these.

"Issuing a threat — even over social media, via text message, or through e-mail — is a federal crime," the FBI said, waring that those who post or send threats can receive up to five years in federal prison or face state or local charges, including threatening interstate communications.

The FBI said that law enforcement agencies have limited resources, and responding to hoax threats diverts officers and costs taxpayers.

“Hoax threats disrupt school, waste limited law enforcement resources, and put first responders in unnecessary danger," said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich. "We also don’t want to see a young person start out adulthood with a felony record over an impulsive social media post. It’s not a joke; always think before you post.”

The FBI says that threats of violence against school board members, officials, and workers in our nation’s public schools can be reported by the public to the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center (NTOC) via its national tip line (1-800-CALL-FBI) and online through the FBI website (http://fbi.gov/tips).

   

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