As many around the country were preparing to remember the lives of those lost 14 years ago on 9/11, Chesterfield County school officials and law enforcement were teaming up to ensure the safety of students in the district on Friday.
The day went without incident and Sheriff Jay Brooks was relieved. Although he and his team were pretty confident there wouldn’t be any problems despite online rumors warning of school attacks on the anniversary of 9/11.
“There was no logical reason, no grounds or credible evidence, it was strictly a Facebook farce. But in the abundance of caution there were officers in every school today,” he said Friday afternoon after schools were released.
“There was a marked unit at every school. I went to every school personally and there were no incidents at all.”
Brooks estimated roughly 100 or more students at each school were kept home and said he understood why parents took the precaution.
“It was just a normal day other than police cars,” he said.
Deputies take every threat seriously, Brooks said, and the 9/11 threats were researched and handled with caution just in case. There was no evidence the threats originated from anyone local.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Joint Terrorist Task Force provided local authorities with updates every 30 minutes after receiving the information.
Brooks went on to explain the “threat” was actually an old threat, because it referred to Sept. 11 as Monday and not Friday. It has been several years since 9/11 has fallen on Monday.
“You may have seen a report circulating on social media and the news of a potential threat to area schools on Sept. 11,” the Chesterfield County School District said in a Sept. 10 news release. “We have been in contact with the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office; they firmly believe it is without basis and will keep us updated if anything changes.
“SLED and the Joint Terrorist Task Force have informed state and local officials that there is no validity to the source. We believe safety is paramount; to that end, we will have additional law enforcement at each school tomorrow as a precautionary measure.”
Brooks said there would be a slightly heavier presence of law enforcement during Friday night football games as well.
Some school districts in North Carolina were also dealing with warnings of threats to schools via social media. Authorities there also believed it was just a rumor that grew as more and more people forwarded the postings to their friends and family.
Reach Maria D. Grandy at 843-537-5261.