Sometime Sunday a threat began circulating on social media, targeting Monticello High School in Abelmarle County, Va.
The Snapchat message read: “Don’t go to school tomorrow @MHS. students [sic]” “Loaded up [sic] bout head out.” The words were superimposed on a set of long guns. Later in the day the Albemarle County Police Department detained a juvenile in connection with the threat, which police determined to be a hoax.
The similarity of the school’s acronym to that of Matanzas High School in Palm Coast, however, prompted many calls to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Sunday evening. That in turn prompted the Sheriff’s Office to issue an advisory seeking to put parents’ and students’ minds at ease and disassociating the Abelmarle County posting from anything going on in Flagler.
Today is the first day of school in Flagler and many districts across the country, after the Christmas break.
“The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office will have increased patrols at all schools on Monday, January 8th as children return from winter break,” the sheriff’s advisory states. “There was no credible threat to Matanzas High School,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “The safety of our children and school employees is a top priority and we will continue to have a strong presence in schools to dissuade this type of behavior in any Flagler School.”
Such hoaxes aren’t new, locally or elsewhere, with schools frequently if not significantly disrupted either by fresh postings or recycled postings purporting to bring harm to one campus or another. At times, the postings seem to be coordinated or copycat efforts that, like viral videos or memes, take on a life of their own, multiplying across districts.