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Police react to rash of school shooting scares throughout region

TimesNews.net Staff Report • Apr 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM

In the past week three Washington County, Va., schools have had shooting scares, two the result of electronic messages.

"Parent need to take charge of these computers and text messaging," Said Lt. Blaine Tate, a school resource officer with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. "Just know what you're kids are doing."

The first incident occurred late last week in Abingdon, when a 14-year-old E. B Stanley student posted a message over Myspace.com.

"Basically he said he'd shoot the school up," Tate said.

The juvenile is charged with a class VI felony of communicating threats to do bodily harm at a public school through electronic messages. A computer was also seized from the juvenile's residence as part of the investigation.

On Friday county officials, students and parents were again on edge, when Holston High School in Damascus was briefly locked down.

"The boy never made a threat to Holston or Holston High School," Tate said. "The boy left his parents residence upset after being out all night and said he would shoot somebody. Holston did the correct thing. Our school resource officer there had them lock down, which was the correct thing to do, even though he had made no threats to a student or the school."

A third incident occurred Monday, this time provoked by a text message from a Patrick Henry junior. The student texted an adult friend saying he was going to take a gun to the Glade Spring school and shoot people, and the adult alerted school officials. As with the previous student at E. B. Stanley, the juvenile was charged with a class VI felony of communicating threats through electronic messages to do bodily harms on school grounds.

When asked if the students seemed inclined to follow through on the messages, or if they were empty threats provoked by the shootings at Virginia Tech, Tate said, "I'll let a wiser man then me make the decision in court."

Carter and Hawkins County officials also had to deal with threats -- or perceived threats -- of school shootings last week. An 11-year-old Hampton Elementary student told students on the bus he was going to shoot a particular teacher. The student was suspended.

Meanwhile, the mother of a Church Hill Elementary student was charged with assault after pointing a toy gun in a kindergarten class, and pulling the trigger several times.

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