Fayette Co. Sheriff and BOE Express Concern Over Social Media’s Role in School Threats

FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va (WOAY) – On Tuesday, there was an increased security presence at Oak Hill High School after a shooting threat was found Monday written a the bathroom wall.  A photo taken of the threat began circulating on social media. 

“Someone sees this in the bathroom and instead of going to the proper authorities being the staff members at Oak Hill High School or the resource officer Lieutenant McMullen, they take a picture of it and send it out on Snapchat or whatever, you know, they’re using. That makes it difficult. If you find something like this, report it,” Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley said. 

The photo of the threat first began circulating on Snapchat before it took off on other social media platforms. This can pose a problem for the school board as well as they try to get out in front of the issue. 

“In a case like this, things are placed out on social media sometimes before students are aware or staff, administration, the central office because it’s instantaneous,” Associate Superintendent of Personnel and Operations Margaret Pennington said. “It makes it very difficult sometimes for school systems to be able to appropriately handle and efficiently and quickly handle threats that come in.”

The threat prompted an increased law enforcement presence this morning with more deputies and police officers on the scene searching students as they walked in. And while all threats are taken serious, Sheriff Fridley wanted to address the seriousness of students just making threats as they could be looking at serious time in prison. 

“They’re going to be dealt with. There’s ifs ands or buts about that. The prosecutor Larry Harrah’s on board with it. And you know, it’s a process going through it but it takes a lot of man power, a lot of time,” Sheriff Fridley said. “It takes a lot of educational time that the kids need to do what we have to do when threats like this are made.” 

This is still under investigation.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.