Teen arrested following threats at Union Pines

A 15-year-old juvenile was arrested after allegedly making a “threat of violence directed at students from Union Pines High School,” according to a press release from Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields Thursday.

The sheriff’s office, Moore County Schools Police, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation worked together after separate shooting threats were made toward students at Union Pines High School and Southern Middle School on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

“During the early morning hours of November 17, 2022, sheriff’s investigators along with the Sheriff’s Response Team executed a search warrant at a residence in Aberdeen, North Carolina, where they identified a juvenile responsible for making the threat,” said Fields regarding one threat at Union Pines High School.

The Aberdeen teenager is facing a charge of communicating threats of mass violence on an educational property and was placed in the custody of juvenile justice, said Fields.

“Threats such as these will be investigated to the fullest extent as allowed by law,” said Fields. “The safety of our students and staff remains a top priority to all in law enforcement in Moore County.”

Chief Deputy Richard Maness, with the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, told Sandhills Sentinel Friday they used technology to track the number used in the threat to find an IP address. Then they “applied and executed a search warrant where they received an admission.”

Late Wednesday evening, in a press release from the school district, officials said parents were notified Wednesday regarding the threats. Many students stayed home from school after receiving the notice of the threats.

“Union Pines High School and Southern Middle School have both experienced threats of gun violence over the last two days,” said the school district in the news release. “Parents were notified of these incidents by respective principals earlier today.

“In the case of Southern Middle, there was one threat made that was investigated and deemed to be not credible. Aberdeen Police will provide additional law enforcement presence tomorrow in an abundance of caution.

“In the case of Union Pines, there have been three separate threats of gun violence. One from yesterday was investigated and deemed not credible. One from today was investigated and a student was identified and that situation is being addressed. The third threat received late today is currently being investigated by school administration and law enforcement. Additional law enforcement will be on campus tomorrow as well.

“Each situation is handled according to the Student Code of Conduct and North Carolina criminal law. Please know that our administration, faculty and staff work diligently everyday to ensure the safety and well being of our students. That will always remain our top priority. Please refer any immediate questions to your school.”

Social media images showed one threat toward Union Pines involved graffiti in a school bathroom, and the threat made by the teenager arrested involved a text message that was circulated between students.

Parents expressed concerns over social media regarding the threat notification from Union Pines High School. The threats began Tuesday, but the parents weren’t notified until late Wednesday afternoon.

All this comes on the heels of a threat last month at Crain’s Creek Middle School where a student allegedly threatened to bring a weapon to school. The school district said there was no immediate threat to students or staff at the school. You can read more on the threat on Crain’s Creek Middle School here.

At the Moore County Board of Education meeting on Oct. 31, Executive Officer for Academics and Student Support Services Dr. Seth Powers presented area school violence data to the school board members.

The data revealed 35 fights and 13 assaults in the 2022-2023 school year, with data entry ending on Oct. 24.

A 2021-2022 data sheet revealed 81 reportable offenses. There were three personnel assaulted, 10 possessions of alcohol, one possession of a firearm, 40 cases of controlled substances, 26 cases of weapon possession and one sexual assault. The majority of weapon possession cases was a pocketknife.

To read more on this, please click here.

The Moore County School Board approved the expansion of law enforcement officers in all schools last month. The Moore County Board of Commissioners later approved the expansion.

The school district will hire 13 new school resource officers (SRO) to provide a full-time officer in each school. Currently, there are 14 SROs, bringing the total to 27. The expansion will supply a roving captain to supervise all officers. It will take up to 18 months to install the new officers. The estimated initial cost is $1,534,143.

To read more on this, please click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email