Henrico student arrested for possession of guns as online threats put school districts on high alert
A student from Henrico High School was arrested at the school on Friday after he was allegedly found in possession of all components to make a functional handgun.
During school hours, the students were in a car on campus, which caught the attention of a school resources manager and school staff. Officers investigated and reportedly discovered that one of the students had parts to make a firearm.
Police in Henrico charged the boy with possession of a firearm on school property, possession of a firearm by an underage person, and concealed weapon. The minor was taken into custody by the Henrico police and taken to the Henrico County Juvenile Detention Center.
Last week, a “School Shooting Challenge” was promoted on the TikTok social media app for Friday, December 17th. The threats claimed that several school shootings would take place on Friday, prompting schools in Virginia and the country to increase law enforcement and security presence on school campuses.
In the aftermath of the Oxford High School shooting, which left four dead and seven seriously injured, high school students spread vague threats around social networks.
Two schools in Henrico County take extra precautions in place following social media threats this month.
Between November 5 and December 15, there were five social media threats targeting various Henrico schools and one verbal threat, according to the lieutenant. Matthew Pecka of the Henrico County Police Division. All threats were thoroughly investigated and mitigated by criminal charges or services offered.
During the same period last year, a threat was made. In 2019, during that period of about a month, 23 threats were made against Henrico schools, according to Pecka.
Due to the increase in threats in the school division, Henrico County Public Schools introduced a comprehensive threat assessment process in 2019, covering both students and adults. The process has broadened to include community partnerships.
One such partnership is the Henrico County Police Division Threat Assessment Team, which was also expanded in 2019. The team consists of supervisory staff trained from several internal and police disciplines. partnerships with HCPS, Henrico Division of Fire, Henrico Area Mental Health and Developmental Services. , Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and Department of Social Services.
“All threats are taken seriously, communicated quickly, investigated quickly, thoroughly and the documentation is consistent,” Pecka told the Citizen. “People who utter threats of violence are identified, intercepted and services are offered to deter them from committing further acts of violence with varying consequences. These can range from providing other county resources to criminal charges. “
Anyone who sees an online threat is urged to contact the police or the school immediately.
“The community and parents have been a great help in identifying these issues,” said Pecka. “We were lucky in Henrico County. “
Reporting a threat immediately can prevent a tragedy, Pecka said, and media coverage has increased in these situations, which has helped identification and safety.
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Anna Bryson is the educational reporter for Henrico Citizen and a member of the Report for America corps. Make a tax deductible donation to support his work, and RFA will match him dollar for dollar.