GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A 15-year-old male has been charged with a felony after Greenville police said he called a pawn shop on Thursday and made references to “shooting up a school”
Greenville Police officers have obtained a juvenile petition and secure custody order for the teen. His name is not being released because he is a juvenile.
He faces a felony charge of making a false report concerning an act of violence on educational property, and Greenville police said he will be held at the Juvenile Detention Center.
Pitt County parents were informed of the threat Thursday afternoon by an automated phone message.
“The Greenville Police Department received word of a vague, unsubstantiated threat today whereby a reference to a school shooting was made,” the message explained. “No specific school was referenced.”
“It was scary,” said Christina Williams, a Pitt County parent. “The only other thing I had to deal with like that was last year’s bomb threat.”
For Pitt County parent Rondericka Tripp, “it wasn’t fear, but it was ‘OK what do I need to do as a parent.”
“Schools and local law enforcement is taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our students,” the Pitt County Schools message continued. “As such, you may see an increase law enforcement presence at our schools until law enforcement feels that matter has been thoroughly investigated and addressed.”
Tripp said she thinks Pitt County Schools did their best to handle the situation.
“It’s not always what we want, but they do their best,” said Tripp. “You know you got to understand they have billions of kids, billions of parents and billions of situations, and they have to handle it a certain way.”
Facebook posts show some parents were up in arms about how the county handled the situation.
Others said their concerns are not with the school system, but with society.
“We can’t blame Pitt County Schools for the madness out here,” said Tripp.
“Everybody’s so crazy nowadays, you never know,” said Williams.
The police department later clarified the threat was made to a local pawn shop but did not clarify which one. Investigators said someone called the shop asking if they sold guns there, later making references about “shooting up a school”.
The Greenville Police Department later addressed the message and situation to clarify the message was meant to be transparent with the community. The department said, in part:
“This message is not intended to alarm anyone, but rather to be as transparent as possible and provide assurance that the matter is being taken seriously.”
GPD says there is no continued threat to the community. The 15-year-old told police the call was a prank and will be tried as a juvenile.
“It’s not funny at all,” said Dr. Travis Lewis, Pitt County Schools. “They may think in the moment that this is something that’s going to be amusing, but I want them to stop and think about the long-term consequences of those decisions.”
The 15-year-old suspect is now in custody and faces both legal and school-related consequences. The suspect will be tried as a juvenile.