Shooting threat made on social media addressed at Middleburg High School

Parents worried for kids' safety

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - There's a lot of outrage from parents in Middleburg, who are not happy about a notification they were given regarding a shooting threat earlier this week at Middleburg High School.

Middleburg High School opened as usual Thursday, but many parents remain concerned over the threat toward the school that was posted on social media Monday night.

School officials told News4Jax the threat was not credible and there's not a security threat, but there's still unhappiness with some parents and students who packed the school cafeteria Thursday night.

"We understand that this is an issue that for a parent is their worst nightmare and so it raises concerns," Clay County Schools spokesman Gavin Rollins said. "We have multiple people, deputies and various other people who are working to make sure this is the safest place for your child."

School officials told the crowd that the threats were made by two minors, one of whom was out of state.

The news was given to a packed room of mostly parents who wanted answers as to why the threat was made Monday, but many didn't know until hearing from their children late Tuesday.

District officials say they know who made the threats and that the people involved say it was a joke. The school district and Sheriff's Office are investigating both suspension and possible criminal charges.

News4Jax talked to students and parents. While many weren't happy with the notification sent out the day after Monday's threat, others felt Middlebug High has done a good job keeping parents notified.

"As a student, I felt unaware of what was going on," student Tyler Cole said. "Tuesday, I was unaware what was going on until I received a text message third period from my boyfriend's mother asking what was going on. She asked me what was going on and I asked, 'What do you mean?'"

"I honestly think they couldn't have been doing a better job," student Kelsey Conroy said. "My family as far as has been concerned has been kept very informed. Everything felt very safe. I didn't feel threatened at all. I didn't think they could have done a better job with what they could be doing.

"My child was scared to come to school," parent Nikki Peppard said. "The lack of communication and the fact that the school board can only suspend the student for the rest of the school year, so there's a good possibility that the student that has threatened death upon my child can come back next year and essentially come back next year and have possibly retaliation in his thoughts."

The school board will have final say on the student who was involved. Whether that's a suspension or expulsion is unclear. It's also unclear whether the second person involved with the online threat, who they say was out of state, is a student or not.

Rollins said the school district was working closely with the Clay County Sheriff's Office to ensure students' safety.

"That student and the situation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible," Rollins said.

Clay County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Mary Justino said the student who made the threat faces suspension at a minimum and that deputies have an open investigation pending as well.

News4Jax confirmed that the student was not on campus Thursday.

Rollins said officials want to be sure to get the message out that this kind of behavior is not going to be tolerated in Clay County schools.

"We've heard indications of, 'Can't you take a joke?' The bottom line is: no," Rollins said. "In this day and age, we have to be very serious. If you're a student out there, you must be careful what you post on social media. It's not a joke. It's not a game, and you have to be very cautious." 

Copyright 2015 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.