Officials: 21 cases of school threats investigated in Va. Beach

Left to Right: Police Chief Jim Cervera, Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle and VBPS Chief School Officer Rashard Wright at a news conference on Feb. 23, 2018, that was aimed at addressing threats made to schools in Virginia Beach. (Credit: WAVY/Rob Rizzo).

VIRGINIA  BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach officials on Friday addressed a recent string of threats against area schools.

Friday’s news conference was primarily a message to parents. VBPS Chief School Officer Rashard Wright said in a plea to parents, “We need your help.”

Officials want parents to know what their children are doing, because if they get arrested for the social media threats, lives for the family will never be the same.

In the last nine days Virginia Beach students have been arrested for social media posts threatening violence at Tallwood High School, Kempsville Middle School, Lynnhaven Middle School, and two arrested at Virginia Beach Middle School.

“Threats against a school are not a joke, they are a crime. Threats against a school are not a misunderstanding, they are a crime,” said Virginia Beach’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle, with the emphasis on the word “not.”

This news conference featured Virginia Beach’s top prosecutor, top cop, and Wright, the top schools officer.

“We need your help, they are your children. You need to know every post every tweet and every text lives forever. You talk to your children about using good judgement, and about being responsible digital citizens,” Wright said. “In short … see something, please say something. The school division has a number of resources for parents and students for the digital citizenship as part of our be social be smart be safe campaign.”

Stolle’s message to parents focused on being alert and focused on your children, “The way we begin to stop school threats is at home, and that’s where it is going to start, and it begins with parents being involved in what their kids are doing.”

NOTE: Officials address recent threats against area schools.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera on posting threats on social media: “When you hit send on any type of device, that is your digital fingerprint. You hit ‘send’, we will find you if you send the information.”

It was Stolle who laid it out for parents: “You have every right, and I suggest you have a duty, to know exactly what your kids are doing . You have a duty to know what they are doing on their phones, on their tablets, on their electronic devices.”

It’s become a cliché to say this now, but after 17 more dead in Florida, it doesn’t hurt to remind people if you see something, it is your responsibility to say something, and to connect the dots to stop something bad and evil from happening.

Superintendents across the region signed a joint letter this week addressing the threats. In the letter, the superintendents said they are working closely with local law enforcement and “have multiple security measures in place.”