Midlands school districts continue to address 'unsubstantiated' rumors and threats

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Several counties in the Midlands are dealing with social media threats against schools as officials are attempting to quell parents' fears.

The Kershaw County Sheriff's Office was the first to address these threats in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday morning.

"THERE IS NO THREAT TO [Lugoff-Elgin High School] AS PER A WIDELY SPREAD RUMOR," KCSO said in a Facebook post Friday morning.

A false rumor began Thursday at LEHS regarding a student who was going to open fire at the school. Deputies say this has been thoroughly investigated and is determined to be a rumor.

A photograph of a young man with a gun that has also been widely shared came from a situation in the Upstate and that was handled by law enforcement, according to KCSO. "There is no threat of a shooting at LEHS. Parents and students need not be worried," the post reads.

"It would be a real good idea for parents to warn their children who attend public school or any school for that matter, not to joke around about shooting up a school. It is NOT funny and will be dealt with severely by law enforcement and by the school district."

The Fairfield County Sheriff's Office also had to address the rumor, saying they have "found no substantiated or credible threats thus far" against Fairfield Central High School.

"Although these are just unconfirmed rumors, we want to ensure everyone that we do take these seriously. I've directed our personnel to have an increased presence in our schools today. While many counties are dealing with this same issue this morning, we should always err on the side of caution, especially when these types of rumors involve our children. Again, I want to ensure everyone that our increased presence on school campuses today is merely a safety precaution. We have no reason to believe that there has been a direct threat to any of our schools."

Richland County Sheriff's Department is now investigating a threat made to Westwood High School.

The Principal of Westwood High School Cheryl Guy sent a message to parents saying that school officials are aware of the social media post and have determined that there is no threat to the school.

"We have been able to quickly determine that there is no immediate safety threat to our school," the message read. "We are continuing our school day as usual, and as always, being very vigilant about the safety and security of our campus."

According to Guy, school administrators and law enforcement have spoken with the parent of the student who allegedly made the post. They have confirmed that the student is with the parent today and they are out of town.

"Law enforcement continues to actively investigate. However, as I stated before, there is no immediate safety threat to our school and we are continuing with our normal school day," she said.

Pair Education Center in Lexington County also investigated a threat to the school.

According to Dawn Kujawa, Public Information Officer for Lexington School District Two, a teacher alerted the principal late Thursday afternoon about a student who received a threatening text.

The student claimed that another Pair student threatened to bring a gun to school on Friday.

"The West Columbia Police Department and Lexington County Sheriff's Department investigated throughout the evening, including making visits and searching the homes of both students," Kujawa said in a written statement. "The investigation found no weapons, searches of cell phones turned up no threatening texts, and no other evidence was found to corroborate the alleged threat, according to officials."

Sumter Schools also had to address the rumors spreading around Sumter High School.

"A rumor circulated around Sumter High School that a post was on social media stating that 'something was going to happen at 2:20.' No one has been able to produce or verify the post; however, as a precautionary measure, extra law enforcement has been available at the school throughout the day," the statement said. "The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We take threats very seriously and will involve law enforcement in the investigation."

Extra law enforcement officers were on the Pair Education Center campus on Friday.

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