Lowndes sheriff: Online school threats investigated

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VALDOSTA — Increased security was planned at a school in Lowndes County for Wednesday after the sheriff's office questioned a teen about online threats, authorities said.

Lowndes County's 911 service received two calls Monday night from people saying they had seen Instagram posts from someone threatening to shoot up a county school, Sheriff Ashley Paulk said.

Investigators tracked the posts to an eighth-grade boy "about 14-15 years old" and went to his house, the sheriff said.

"The family was very cooperative," he said.

A search of the home turned up no weapons, he said, and no shooting took place.

There are no charges against the boy because the Department of Juvenile Justice, which would have to approve charges, said to turn the boy over to his mother, Paulk said.

"We (the sheriff's office) filled out a complaint form for the DJJ, but they wouldn't even evaluate him," the sheriff said.

Paulk said the boy's mother took down the Instagram posts.

The county school system planned for "an increased presence of law enforcement" at Lowndes Middle School Wednesday, according to a Lowndes County Schools statement. The juvenile who made the threat is not currently enrolled in Lowndes County Schools, the statement said.

"We take these types of situations very seriously and we are grateful for the swift actions of our sheriff’s office. According to Mr. Wes Taylor, school superintendent, 'The safety of our school, students, and staff will always be our top priority'," the statement said.

"We want people to know that we will investigate these things and find the poster," Sheriff Paulk said. "Parents need to monitor what their children are putting on social media and be aware there can be serious consequences."

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