CBS Atlanta reported Thursday night that a text message, which warned of a shootout at school on Friday, March 13, was making the rounds among Redan High School students The text, which also circulated on the Web, read: “Get yo bulletproof vest out, ’cause on Friday da 13th at Redan high, it’s a SHOOTOUT.”
Parents are taking the text message seriously, as are many of the students. Many decided to stay home from school. One parent, who wish to remain anonymous, said: “Redan High School and DeKalb County Public Schools officials were aware of the text message and told CBS Atlanta that they do not believe the text is credible but they were taking it seriously enough to monitor the situation. They did not, however, find the text message credible enough to cancel classes at Redan High School, which is in Stone Mountain, Georgia. They are considering it a Friday the 13th hoax but took the added precaution of adding another security officer to the one Redan already has on duty.”
DeKalb County Police had not been notified of the text message threat until CBS Atlanta contacted them for information.
Although this may actually be a case of some student or prankster attempting to disrupt the school day at Redan High School, it carries with it serious consequences. Texting a message of a shootout constitutes a threat to the safety of other individuals and can be prosecuted as a terrorist threat. According to the website of Inhofe & Associates, CriminalAttorney.com, terrorist threats usually involve the evacuation of public places of assembly. These would include methods of public transportation, buildings, stadiums, airplanes, and schools. And the penalty for making such threats can be extensive. A person could face charges that might lead to imprisonment, loss of Constitutional rights (to vote or to own a firearm), parole or probation, fines, and other measures.
It is further pointed out that, although authorities have always considered terrorist threats a very serious matter, the tragedy of September 11, 2001, increased not only vigilance against such threats but produced stricter regulations and far stiffer penalties and repercussions for those found engaged in such activity.
It must be also be mentioned that had this text message threat been real, there was a serious breakdown in getting the message to the proper authorities as quickly as possible. Not one of the students who received the text message called the police (or, if they did, it was after CBS Atlanta had done so). Not one of those students’ parents or guardians that became aware of the text message called the police. CBS Atlanta did not report how they obtained their information but even if they became aware of the text message threat from a phoned-in tip, why weren’t the police notified first. As mentioned, DeKalb County authorities knew nothing of the text message until the television station called them to ask what measures they were taking to deal with the threat. DeKalb officials said that they would contact the school and go from there.
Redan High School has a student body of 1,500.
This text message threat of a shootout comes just a week after three schools in Cherokee County, Georgia, were placed on lockdown after police received a tip that someone had brought a weapon to Woodstock High School. Forrest Busby, 17, was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon onto school property. He and two other teenagers were detained as well for the theft of firearms from a Holly Springs residence, the home of one of the boys involved.