Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Threats of violence at several Midlands schools Friday are just rumors, deputies say, who've been checking out all the claims that have been made.
So far, News19 is aware of four places where the threats were made: Kershaw County, Fairfield County, Richland County's Westwood High School and Sumter High School. But in all these cases, the claims were found to be false.
Both Kershaw and Fairfield County Sheriff's offices released similar statements Friday morning, after saying they've been getting reports of students threatening harm at public schools in those districts.
This is what Kershaw County Sheriff's Office said in their statement:
"A false rumor began yesterday at LEHS regarding a student who was going to shoot up the school. This has been THOROUGHLY investigated by the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office. It is ONLY 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. There is no threat of a shooting at LEHS. Parents and students need not be worried.
"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."
Here is Fairfield County's statement:
"Over the past 12 hours, there have been rumors of threats of violence toward multiple schools throughout South Carolina, to include a school in Fairfield County (Fairfield Central High School). The Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating these rumors since they have surfaced and have found no substantiated or credible threats thus far. However, in the interest of alleviating any concerns and/or fears that students, staff, and parents may have, the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office is providing an increased law enforcement presence in our schools throughout the day.
"Sheriff Montgomery: '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 School District Two also confirmed they received a threat on social media, but Richland County deputies say they've checked into that threat, and have confirmed the student wasn't who made isn't even in town.
Westwood Principal Dr. Cheryl Guy sent the following statement to parents:
"I want to to let you know that we are aware of a post on social media. In the post an individual made a threat against the school.
"Because many of our students, parents and employees notified us about the post, we have been able to quickly determine that there is no immediate safety threat to our school. We are continuing our school day as usual, and as always, being very vigilant about the safety and security of our campus.
"School administrators and law enforcement have spoken with the parent of the student who allegedly made the post. We 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.
"I want to thank all the members of our school family who reported the threat to us. Continue to be vigilant and report suspicious activities and/or discussions as well as anything that just doesn’t seem right. You can report them to school administrators directly or use the district’s Safe School Line. We take all reports seriously and investigate them thoroughly. You can access the Safe School Line on the Richland Two Mobile App or by calling 803-736-8756."
"Thank you for all that you do to make Westwood High a safe place for teaching and learning.
Cheryl Guy, Ph.D"
The Sumter School District says extra law enforcement was present at Sumter High School after rumors circulated about an afternoon threat:
"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 safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We take threats very seriously and will involve law enforcement in the investigation."