The Clay County District Schools Police Department posted a warning to parents Tuesday night about social media posts that could threaten schools in the county and neighboring areas.
The vague alert warned of a Snapchat post that had been circulated to students of public and private schools in Clay County, referencing threats of an active shooter but not mentioning any specific schools.
Then Wednesday morning, the district police posted an update saying another post had begun making the rounds that did mention some specific schools.
“The author of a newer social media post apparently formed conclusions of what they heard. Please know we are actively looking into all posts brought to our attention. We will continue to monitor safety and security measures at all Clay County Schools,” the department’s updated Facebook post read.
Visible police presence could be seen at schools around the county Wednesday.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said law enforcement must take all such threats seriously.
“They may not carry out all of them. They may carry out some of them. They may not carry out any of those threats, but you can’t be sitting around saying, ‘Oh that’s nothing; that’s just kids play.’ You have to take appropriate action. You have to plan. You have to be on high alert,” Jefferson said.
The department said it, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Green Cove Springs Police Department and Orange Park Police Department are aware of the message and are actively investigating.
“We will continue to make sure all students remain safe at school and remain vigilant to behaviors which threaten our schools,” the department said.
The district police chief said tracking who’s responsible is difficult because the post might have come from a fake account.
A high school junior in Clay County, who asked not to be named, questioned whether the threat was legitimate.
“I think it’s honestly teenagers trying to get out of school .... because it started with a girl posting it. I don’t know where she got it from,” the student said.
Jefferson said it’s critical for districts like Clay to follow up on these posts.
“It shows you that the district is monitoring social media because that’s how a lot of kids communicate for the most part,” Jefferson said. “Social media is a platform that everybody uses in one way or another.”