Randolph County Sheriff’s Office investigating series of threats at schools

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- Sheriff's officials are investigating a series of threats made at schools in Randolph County.

Three schools had a heavy law enforcement presence on campus Tuesday after someone made violent threats at Trinity High School, Southwestern Randolph High School and Archdale-Trinity Middle School.

Sheriff's deputies and local police departments in Randolph County are also doing drive-by patrols at all 31 schools in the district.

School district officials say they don't think these threats are legitimate, but they're working with law enforcement and taking them very seriously, especially in light of last week's school shooting in Florida.

“Just stop. It’s not helping anything in this country," said one mother, who has children in the Randolph County school system. She asked to not be identified. "Our country’s in a mess as is. Why would you want people to live in fear like this?”

It started with a message carved into a bathroom stall at Trinity High School. It reads, "I will kill you all on 02/20. Bye, bye."

It's since been covered up, and campus stayed quiet on Tuesday, but many people in Randolph County remain on edge.

“Obviously parents are anxious and children are anxious and staff members are anxious," Superintendent Stephen Gainey said.

“You have a lot of kids scared and upset," the RCS mom said.

The first threat made against Trinity High School happened before the Florida shooting. Since then, others have made what sheriff's officials are calling "copy cat" threats.

Gainey said two more threats were made against Trinity last week. Southwestern Randolph received one Friday, followed by another at Archdale-Trinity Middle School on Monday.

They all follow a similar pattern.

“The threats are threats of violence," Gainey said.

Across the district, many parents kept their kids home from school Tuesday, including the mom we talked to on the phone. Her daughter goes to Wheatmore High School.

“You can’t take these things lightly," she said.

FOX8 asked sheriff's officials how they determine if threats like these pose an actual risk to students.

When students or teachers report a threat, it's up to school administrators to call law enforcement right away. From there, they look at every detail of the threat, interview students and put precautionary measures in place -- like the extra security, keeping classroom doors locked and signing students in and out when they go to the bathroom.

“I don’t know that there’s a perfect formula for assessing them, but I feel comfortable with the staff members throughout this school system, they’re going to watch for things that are troubling and could indicate some threat to the safety of the school," Gainey said.

Sheriff Robert Graves said Facebook and social media have caused false information to spread about these threats. He's asking any student or parent who thinks they have information about these threats to not post it online and call 911 instead.