Police make arrest after social media threats against Md. schools

BLADENSBURG, Md. — Prince George’s County police have identified two teen suspects, and arrested one, following a series of online threats of mass violence made against area schools.

The threats, some involving clowns, were part of a flurry of anonymous threats posted this weekend and Monday against a number of schools in Prince George’s County and across the wider D.C. area. that prompted police to deploy additional officers.

Prince George’s County police arrested one of the teens Monday, accusing him of setting up a Twitter account “with a clown theme” that he used to threaten students at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland, on Monday, according to a news release.

Police also said they have identified another student who made a bomb threat to Bladensburg High School via social media. Police said the threat does not appear credible. No charges have been filed yet, but the police are still investigating. School officials said they are taking disciplinary action against the student.

Prince George’s County police said they are continuing to investigate similar threats to other schools in the county. FBI agents with the agency’s Baltimore Field Office are also investigating the threats.

Police said anyone who sees threats of violence on social media should immediately call police and should not forward the post.

“While perpetrators may believe certain apps provide anonymity, these investigations show otherwise,” Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said in a statement.

Other online threats that circulated earlier referenced a shooting and mentioned four schools: Bladensburg High School; Charles H. Flowers High School; William Wirt Middle School; and Kenmoor Middle School.

“I think this is really serious,” said one student at Bladensburg High. “I don’t take this as a joke.”

Raven Hill, a spokeswoman for the school system, told WTOP the threats were specific to Monday but the school district would “be vigilant all week.”

“The safety of our students is our top priority. Please use this as an opportunity to remind your child to immediately speak to a teacher or school administrator about any safety concerns. We want your child to know our school environment is safe and focused on their academic success,” the system said in a email.

In response to the threat, Eleanor Roosevelt High School called off after-school activities and cleared temporary buildings, and the private Elizabeth Seton High School decided to close altogether for the day.

Other school systems have said they have received threats through social media, too.

Montgomery County had a similar message to its students and community: the police are aware of the threats and will continue to monitor the situation closely. The school system said there is no credible threat.

Fairfax County police also were monitoring the situation after some threats, but the school system later said it was a hoax and there was no credible threat.

“Although all threats are taken seriously, this incident was clearly intended only to disrupt school operations and we do not believe any of our students are at risk,” the Fairfax school system said in an email to students. “With the assistance of our law enforcement partners, we will continue to be diligent to ensure the safety of students and staff. Thank you for your support and understanding.”

In Arlington and Stafford counties, police say they would continue to monitor the situation.

WTOP’s Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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