‘Suspicious’ social media post put Beaufort County high school on lockdown

Since the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting that killed 14 students and three educators on Valentine’s Day, at least six threats have been reported at district schools, with the most recent incident reported Friday at Beaufort High School.

Students at the school alerted administrators to a Snapchat post of a weapon, prompting an hourlong lockdown at the school Friday afternoon and an investigation by the City of Beaufort Police Department.

Law enforcement determined the photo, which depicted a BB gun, was not taken on campus.

“There doesn’t appear to have been an actual threat to school safety,” Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster wrote in an email.

It is the latest in a string of school scares, many of which involve unfounded social media posts.

At least four other district schools have reported threats:

▪  On Feb. 22, someone wrote on the wall of a Hilton Head Island Middle School girl’s bathroom instructing students not to attend school Friday because there would be killings. Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said the bathroom wall threat was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated, but additional police presence was stationed at the school Feb. 23.

▪  On Feb. 23, law enforcement investigated a potential threat after Hilton Head Island Middle School students were overheard talking about passing around a gun. No weapon was found.

▪  Also on Feb. 23, a Beaufort Middle School student alerted administrators of a possible threat written on a bathroom wall. City of Beaufort police investigated and there was additional law enforcement at the school this week. Asked for an update on the case, Beaufort Police spokeswoman Sgt. Hope Able responded in an email with no information pertaining to the case.

▪  A woman told a Sheriff’s deputy on Wednesday her nephew had been part of a group text message that indicated a shooting could occur at Battery Creek High School the same day, a Sheriff’s Office report said. No threat was found, and there was never a threat from the student who was the subject of the texts, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bob Bromage said Friday.

▪  On Thursday, a Robert Smalls International Academy student made a “general threat of violence” against the school, but deputies found no evidence of a weapon on school property. The investigation is still active, Bromage said Friday.

At least six district schools have gone on modified lockdowns at some point since the Feb. 14 shooting. A few of these schools went on lockdown as law enforcement investigated the threats. Others went on lockdown because of a nearby neighborhood shooting or search for suspect in the area.

Students are taught to notify school staff if they feel threatened. They can also anonymously report bullying or threats through the district’s “See Something, Say Something” computer app.

During a modified lockdown, students are kept in their classrooms as a precautionary measure.

Kelly Meyerhofer: 843-706-8136, @KellyMeyerhofer