Suspect identified in SHS social media threats

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, according to its Facebook page, has identified the person they believe responsible for last week’s social media threats against Smithfield High School.

Capt. Tommy Potter, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, told The Smithfield Times Sept. 21 that there had been “a number of social media posts” since the Sept. 20 school shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News regarding “threats toward our schools,” specifically Smithfield High.

Potter now says the Sheriff’s Office has identified a student who reposted a picture of guns that had been circulating nationally on social media. The original image, according to the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page, was posted Sept. 8, 2021, and pertained to an incident at a different Heritage High School in Menifee, California.

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It was the circulation of this image, Potter said, that prompted the Sheriff’s Office to station additional personnel at Smithfield High and other schools yesterday as a precaution and begin the current investigation. According to the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page, an investigation conducted in cooperation with state and federal agencies determined no active threat at SHS.

The threat came on the heels of several vandalism incidents and a lockdown at Smithfield High on Sept. 16 after a large fight spilled from the school’s cafeteria into its commons area and law enforcement was called to the scene.

There have been no further incidents involving the Sheriff’s Office at Smithfield High since last week’s threat, Potter said.

Potter declined to name the suspect or provide further details, stating only that charges were “under consideration.”

He added on Tuesday that the Sheriff’s Office had recently filed juvenile court petitions for seven SHS students allegedly involved in the Sept. 16 fight. Petitions, he explained, function much like arrest warrants, but for juveniles.

“Any other matters are being handled by the school administration at this time,” he added.