Online threat included area school divisions

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019


The Southampton County School system was among those divisions included in a threat made this week via social media, which apparently originated in Sussex County.

Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, superintendent of the Southampton system, informed The Tidewater News mid-afternoon Thursday that she had just sent an online letter to parents and the community, which stated the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office informed her of a threat issued to several localities’ schools. Greensville and Surry counties were also reportedly targeted.

Shannon wrote, “School officials and district administration are working in coordination with law enforcement to ensure that all necessary steps are taken for the safety of our students and staff. We will have an increased police presence in our schools as the investigation continues and until a resolution is reached.

“The safety and welfare of each student and staff are paramount to our district, and all threats, credible or not, are taken seriously.”

Southampton sheriff’s office spokesman Maj. Gene Drewery told the paper, “We actually got information from another sheriff’s office. Sussex County has a person of interest.”

The threat reportedly referred to shooting, he said, and added that law enforcement in those localities were also included in the threat.

Drewery continued to say that while the threat is not believed to be credible, that is, it’s not likely to happen, “We’re erring on the side of caution. Our staff and the schools are acting appropriately. The FBI and Virginia State Police are also involved in the investigation.”

Sussex County Sheriff Earnest L. Giles Sr. confirmed that his office is working with federal and state officials.

The threat, said Giles, was made via an Instagram post and brought to his attention by a source at 9:15 p.m. on Monday.

“We immediately jumped on it,” he said. “Warrants were made for the ip (Internet Protocol] address. We take all threats seriously.”

The Tidewater News will report on this matter as it develops.