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Viral Social Media Post Puts Schools Across the Country on Alert

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A hoax threatening a shooting at an Albemarle County high school put police and schools across the country on high alert.

Social media allowed that post to spread and stir up fear in parents and students at any school with the initials MHS.

Albemarle County police say charges are pending against a juvenile who posted that threat against Monticello High School.

It prompted schools and police in at least eight states to respond to concerns about safety on their MHS campuses.

The threat of winter weather closed Albemarle County Public Schools on Monday, January 8, but a police forensic truck visited the campus at Monticello High School.

Albemarle police took a juvenile into custody late Sunday night after the Snapchat photo of an arsenal of guns with a threatening message spread on social media.

Investigators determined it to be a hoax.

However, school systems from Monroe and Mooresville, North Carolina, to Milton, Wisconsin, and Monticello, New York, responded to concerns from parents in their communities who saw the post.

The Lancaster, Pennsylvania, school district alerted parents to additional police presence on Monday at McCaskey High School because of the viral hoax.

Albemarle County police are not releasing any other details about the suspect or the investigation since it involves a juvenile.

A spokesman for the school system says they are working with police, but no decision is made yet about extra security at the high schools when students return on Tuesday.


Release from Albemarle County Police Department:

The Albemarle County Police Department has obtained a petition to charge the juvenile suspect identified in Sunday's social media hoax with threats to commit serious bodily harm to persons on school property (Section 18.2-60(A) (2)of the Code of Virginia).

The charge is a Class 5 Felony, which can be punishable of up to ten years in jail, but no less than one year in jail.
The ACPD identified and detained the juvenile around 9 p.m. Sunday night after first learning of a threatening social media post around 6:30 p.m. that was advising Monticello High students not to go to school on Monday.

During the investigation, officers were able to determine that the post was a hoax and no longer considered a valid threat.

Please also note that the young adult's name identified in the social media post, Elias Fitzgerald, is not involved in this case.